135 million people around the world have difficulty regulating their emotions at some point in their life.

A graphic of a woman experiencing different emotional states.

One of the most effective methods of treating emotion dysregulation is dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT).

What's The Purpose of DBT?

In DBT, the main idea is to help you find a balance between two opposites: acceptance and change.

  • acceptance means learning to live with yourself, even when it's difficult to do so

  • change means adopting new behaviors and building emotional regulation skills

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The term dialectical relates to open-minded thinking. It's the ability to view issues from different perspectives.

For example, when you hold opposing ideas on a subject, both ideas can be valid and true at the same time:

I know that I am doing the best I can...AND…I know I can do better, try harder, and be more effective.

— mental health advocate Teresa Colón reflecting on her experience with DBT

Behavioral refers to the treatment approach taken in DBT. It requires you to learn new behaviors that can improve your life and relationships.

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Who Is It Designed To Help?

DBT was originally designed to treat patients suffering from borderline personality disorder, but it has since been adapted to treat several other clinical disorders related to:

  • anxiety

  • mood

  • eating

  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

  • self harm

  • suicidal behaviors

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DBT teaches you new skills to manage painful emotions and reduce conflict in relationships by:

  • eliminating destructive behaviors

  • improving emotional regulation

  • increasing interpersonal effectiveness

  • developing greater self-awareness

The goal is to help you build a life that you feel is worth living.

Modified DBT programs can even meet the needs of the non-clinical general population. Specifically, the DBT skills training module addresses a range of behaviors in adolescents and young adults.


What can DBT help people with? Select all that apply:

What Does It Involve?

DBT therapy can take 1 year to complete. It can include different types of therapy:

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Individual Therapy

In this setting, you meet one on one with a therapist weekly to:

  • Focus on identifying and accepting problem areas and destructive behavior patterns

  • Learn new skills to handle your emotions better

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Group Therapy

This is usually a weekly group session to improve emotion regulation and behavior in a social context.

The skills training focuses on 4 key areas:

  • Mindfulness

  • Distress tolerance

  • Emotion regulation

  • Interpersonal effectiveness

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It may also include in-the-moment coaching between you and your therapist over the phone or a video call. The goal here is to provide you with support as you need it, while going about your daily life.

This helps you practice the new skills that you learn in DBT.

Take Action

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DBT may be the right treatment for you to feel better and lead a more fulfilling life.

You might benefit from DBT if you answer "yes" to any of the questions below:


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