Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

DBT teaches skills to help control harmful and impulsive behaviors such as self-harming, substance misuse, and binge eating; reduce suicidal thoughts and behaviors; and improve symptoms of PTSD, depression, and borderline personality disorder. This treatment can also help patients build and maintain healthy relationships and may be particularly well-suited for people who experience a lot of conflict in relationships with frequent ups and downs. DBT uses a combination of acceptance and change strategies to help you learn new problem-solving and coping skills to improve your overall quality of life.

DBT lasts longer than some other EBTs, typically taking at least six months to provide full benefits. There are four main components to this treatment: individual therapy, skills training classes, one-on-one “in-the-moment” telephone consultation, and weekly consultation with a therapist. DBT can be personalized for each individual, depending on the nature and extent of your mental health challenges and their impact on your quality of life. Through this therapy, you may:

  • Develop a more balanced view of your experiences and opportunities for experiencing safety and growth.
  • Find increased motivation to participate in activities and hobbies.
  • Develop new ways to understand and address painful emotions and ask for the support you may need.
  • Learn to build and maintain satisfying relationships.
  • Practice mindfulness to help you stay in the here and now.
  • Develop effective coping skills to reduce impulsive behaviors.

If you choose DBT, you may be asked to:

  • Attend weekly sessions with your provider to discuss therapy goals, progress, and any challenges encountered since your last check-in.
  • Participate in a weekly skills group to learn and practice ways of coping with problems and emotions, and apply new skills to specific events and challenges in your life.
  • Complete homework between sessions to practice new skills, track your progress, and then review your efforts with your providers.

No matter what brings you into care, proven treatments and resources are available. To learn more about DBT, speak openly with your mental health provider about your symptoms so you can work together to determine the best treatment plan for you.

Information from mentalhealth.va.gov