Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

  1. NM Behavioral Health EBP Provider Expansion Initiative
  2. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Service Definition

DBT is a comprehensive treatment that includes many aspects of other cognitive-behavioral approaches, such as behavior therapy; including (a) five functions of treatment, (b) biosocial theory and focusing on emotions in treatment, (c) dialectical philosophy, and (d) acceptance and mindfulness.

Population Served

Individuals between the age of 13-21 DBT is a comprehensive, cognitive-behavioral treatment originally designed to help suicidal women. The patient populations for which DBT has the most empirical support include parasuicidal women with BPD, but there have been promising findings for patients with BPD and SUDs, persons who meet criteria for binge-eating disorder, and depressed elderly patients with personality disorders. Although DBT has many similarities with other cognitive-behavioral approaches, several critical and unique elements must be in place for the treatment to constitute DBT.

Some of these elements include:

  • (a) serving the five functions of treatment,
  • (b) the biosocial theory and focusing on emotions in treatment,
  • (c) a consistent dialectical philosophy, and (
  • d) mindfulness and acceptance-oriented interventions.

Persons interested in learning more about DBT might begin with Linehan’s comprehensive treatment manual.