Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is a specific form of Cognitive Behavioural psychotherapy developed by psychologist Marsha M. Linehan to improve the treatment of borderline personality disorder. DBT was originally developed to treat individuals with borderline personality who suffer from chronic suicidal episodes. Not only is DBT now recognised as a high standard for psychological treatment in the USA, but it's now being used to treat a wide range of other mental health and personality disorders including bipolar, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and eating disorders.

What Are The Elements Of DBT?

In accordance with The Linehan Institute's recommendations, there are generally four main elements in the treatment phase of DBT; a skills training group, individual treatment, DBT phone coaching, and a therapist consultation team. However due to limited treatment facilities in some areas of Australia, treatment is sometimes only generally derived of two elements; a skills training group and/or individual treatment.

What Skills Are Taught In DBT?

    Mindfulness Meditation

    Mindfulness is the practice of being fully aware and present in the moment. In DBT, core mindfulness begins with the concept of three states of mind which we are in at alternate times; wise mind, reasonable mind and emotional mind.

    Wise mind is the place where our reasonable and emotional minds overlap, forming an integration of reason and emotion. Marsha M. Linehan states, "Wise mind is that part of each person that can know and experience truth. It is where the person knows something to be true or valid."

    Distress Tolerance

    Distress tolerance uses strategies to help cope and survive during a crisis, and tolerate short and long term pain. These skills help us to address and further understand any impulsive behaviours, and can help in boosting mindfulness and overall awareness.

    Interpersonal Effectiveness

    Interpersonal effectiveness places our focus on the balance our priorities and demands. These skills help us learn how to express ourselves and what we want while maintaining our self-respect, and tending to relationships with others.

    Emotion Regulation

    Emotion regulation is where we learn to understand how our emotions function, and the skills we need in order to handle our emotions instead of being dominated by them. These skills also help us to better manage our emotions in social situations and to reduce our vulnerability to negative emotions.

    Is DBT The Same As CBT?

    Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) both require one-on-one work in order to explore our behaviour, emotions and social challenges in order to learn new skills to better manage our well-being. It has been used for a range of mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, addiction and phobias. Its main goal is to study our thoughts and feelings to the benefit of improving behavioural patterns.

    DBT is considered to be a distinct form of CBT which builds upon its existing foundations in order to address specific concerns regarding its effectiveness. It has traditionally been used to treat individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), however it is now also used for several other disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anger and eating disorders. This form of psychotherapy uses the traditional techniques from CBT while implementing additional skills including acceptance, distress tolerance and mindfulness.

    DBT is now considered to be an improvement of CBT as it primarily focuses on the psychosocial aspects such as the emotional stimulation of people in relationships as they are much higher than what is considered to be normal.

    How To Get Started With DBT

    DBT treatment begins with a psychological or specialised support group, however some seeking treatment do experience problems finding the appropriate local resources or facilities in Australia. Admission to a program generally requires a GP, psychologist or psychiatrist referral.

    DBT Programs in Australia

    Currently the following centres in Australia provide DBT resources:

    New South Wales



    **Have we missed anything? If your program is missing, please contact us here and we'll add it to the list!**

    DBT Programs Online

    Finding a DBT program through a clinic at times can leave us feeling frustrated and helpless. However with the increased flexibility provided with online webinars, many doors have been opened for trainers to provide online training services to those seeking to learn or refine their DBT skills.

    DBT Path is an online DBT informed psychoeducational program led by DBT Skills Educator Debbie Corso and psychotherapist Kathryn C. Holt, providing weekly group classes to cover the three main modules of DBT and mindfulness.

    Debbie and Kathryn's program provides easily accessible, compassionate and supportive non judgemental access to weekly online coping skills classes. These classes are tailored for both men and women who want to learn to thrive as emotionally sensitive people, and no longer feel trapped in their emotions.

    This program provides the three main modules in DBT with the addition of core-mindfulness exercises. These include:

    • Regulating Intense Emotions
    • Managing Distress
    • Relationship Readiness

    Each module runs for 3 months, consisting of one group class per week with homework provided. These classes are a great way to learn, study, practice and review skills and concepts from a variety of methods in a safe environment. All students are given the opportunity to ask questions in real-time, however those who cannot attend will have access to the class recordings to review at their own pace throughout each week.

    DBT Path's training will help you become more effective at managing your emotions with the convenience of online learning and connecting with your peers from around the globe. It's a great place to connect with others and remember that you are never alone in your journey!

    The required text for DBT Path's online classes is The Dialectical Behaviour Therapy Skills Workbook, and can be purchased here.

    Click here for information and how to register for DBT Path's skills program.

    Data References:
    What Is DBT - Behavioral Tech / The Linehan Institute
    DBT Path - Online DBT-informed Psychoeducational Courses