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Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behaviour therapy (DBT) teaches emotion regulation and coping skills; it can be very effective for working with overwhelming emotions and decreasing harmful behaviours. There are four primary skills components to DBT:

  • Mindfulness

  • Interpersonal Effectiveness

  • Emotion Regulation

  • Distress Tolerance

Mindfulness teaches how to experience emotion without acting on it, thus building in a delay to the intense emotion or harmful behavior.

Distress tolerance teaches alternatives to acting on emotions, or harmful behaviours (such as self-harm), and how to deal with such impulses.

Emotional regulation allows you to learn about, control, and understand painful feelings.

Interpersonal effectiveness skills show you how to have your needs met and behave in ways that promote self-respect.


Key aspects of DBT are the concepts of acceptance and validation - whereas CBT has a primary focus on change, DBT works with you where you are at - radical acceptance of your current situation. Change is important too, but sometimes it is good to understand, accept and validate your present situation and how you have arrived there, before looking at what you want to change. This balance between acceptance and change is where the term 'dialectic' comes from in DBT - finding a middle path.

More on DBT Distress Tolerance Skills...

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