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Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Combining elements of cognitive behavioral therapy and Buddhist meditation, Marsha M. Linehan developed dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Dialectical behavior therapy has proven effective in the treatment of borderline personality disorder, traumatic brain injuries, and the chronically suicidal. Dialectical Behavior TherapyUnder this form of therapy, individuals learn to increase their cognitive and emotional regulation by avoiding unwanted reactions to specific triggers.

Linehan supposedly developed dialectical behavior therapy after noting cases of burnout in therapist unsuccessfully dealing with patients who were continually resistive to treatment. Under DBT, the patient comes to see the therapist as an ally, as one who can validate the patient’s feelings and point out better alternatives. Therefore, DBT has four major components that work together: the individual behaviors, group sessions that teach mindful techniques, a therapist consultation team that provides support to the therapist, and phone coaching, brief sessions that help patients in their daily life.

The foundation of all skills taught in dialectical behavior therapy is that of mindfulness, derived from traditional Buddhist practice but stripped of religious connotations. Patients are taught to be nonjudgmentally aware of the moment and to live in the moment, fully experiencing emotions, but putting the moment into a larger perspective.

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