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What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

No matter the Challenge

The Sun will rise.

What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT is a therapeutic modality created by Dr. Marsha Linehan that branches off of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Where CBT aims to address the underlying cognitive distortions and thought processes that play a key role in the way we respond to situations, DBT works to improve our adaptive coping, resiliency, and ability to process emotion while simultaneously challenging some of our thought processes. A full DBT treatment course utilizes a three-pronged approach: weekly skills group, individual psychotherapy, and phone coaching as needed.

Here at Solace, we do not currently offer the full DBT approach, but have therapists on staff who are trained to utilize the DBT approach in individual sessions. Below, you will find information on each part of the traditional DBT Process.

Individual Therapy:

In your weekly individual sessions you will have an opportunity to work with a therapist on building the skillset necessary to cope with whatever life challenges you may encounter. Your individual therapist will challenge you to consider what skills you have utilized in the past, what skills are beneficial to utilize moving forward, and how to identify and work around potential barriers that have prevented you from utilizing skills effectively. Your therapist will challenge you, while simultaneously holding space and validating your unique emotional experience. You may find that your therapist integrates tools such as diary cards– to track your emotions and skills growth on a week to week basis, behavior chain analyses– to break down and better understand a specific moment of dysregulation, or homework assignments– to provide the opportunity to practice specific skills that could be beneficial to your growth and progress in therapy. Regardless of the challenge, your therapist is here to help.

Weekly Skills Group:

In a traditional DBT format, you will be asked to attend a weekly skills group. The skills group spans anywhere from 16-20 weeks and is broken down into 4 specific modules. The modules are listed below. At Solace, we do not currently offer the skills group, but your therapist can structure individual sessions to cover the range of skills that are discussed in the skills group if you are interested!


You will find that Mindfulness is a key player when it comes to DBT. Mindfulness through a DBT lens involves allowing yourself to be attuned to the present moment and immerse yourself in it entirely. Throughout the Mindfulness module you will learn the specific “what” and “hows” of mindfulness, and expand your ability to pay mindful attention to your emotional experiences, present surroundings, and interpersonal situations. You will learn to utilize mindfulness as an important step in regulating emotions and responding to situations from a “wise-mind” perspective.

Distress Tolerance:

The Distress Tolerance Module of DBT focuses on strengthening the skills necessary to tolerate your emotions in a given moment. This module is broken down into two main subcategories: crisis survival skills, and radical acceptance. Crisis survival skills focus on one main point: how to get through a situation without making the situation worse. Radical acceptance skills focus on learning how to accept a situation for what it is, and learning how to function within the situation to move towards change and willingness.

Emotion Regulation:

This module focuses on actually regulating your emotions in a given moment. Where distress tolerance focuses on surviving a moment, emotion regulation focuses on your ability to better understand, process, and respond to intense emotional experiences. Within this module you will learn how to problem solve and engage in skills that help to shift your emotional experience.

Interpersonal Effectiveness:

The final module of the DBT skills training focuses on enhancing your interpersonal relationships. Within this module you learn to engage in healthy communication skills, understand your objectives in communication, make friends, expand social relationships, and end destructive relationships when necessary.

"Sometimes we cannot change the environment significantly, but we can perhaps alter the way in which we percieve it."- Dr. Marsha Linehan

Phone Coaching:

The final part of DBT is phone coaching. Here at Solace, we do not currently offer phone coaching as one of our treatment approaches. At a full DBT clinic, phone coaching allows you to contact your therapist between specific hours for very brief guidance on how to utilize or implement a specific skill within the DBT framework.