Beginner's Guide To Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy is a form of counseling used to treat a range of mental health issues, particularly borderline personality disorder and eating disorders. The therapy combines methods used in both cognitive behavioral therapy and behavioral therapy to help patients improve their mindset and wellbeing. Specifically, dialectical behavior therapy aims to give patients healthy coping mechanisms and other tools that will help them convert negative thinking patterns and destructive behavior into something with a positive, healthy outcome. This form of psychotherapy was first developed in the 1980s by a team of cognitive behavioral psychologists. Led by Dr. Marsha Linehan, these psychologists were struggling to achieve positive outcomes in patients with borderline personality disorder solely with cognitive behavioral therapy methods, and this led them to create the new therapeutic approach that became known as dialectical behavior therapy.

Basic Definition Of The Therapy


Dialectical behavior therapy is founded on the principles of a philosophy known as dialectics and incorporates three central values. These are that all things are connected, change is inevitable and constant, and opposing things can be woven together to create a more accurate estimation of the truth in a situation. Dialectical behavior therapists help their patients arrive at a resolution of self-acceptance and change, which are perceived opposites. In contrast to other therapies, this form of therapy incorporates the idea of validation, which has been shown to enable patients to experience less stress and distress from the therapy process, and also increases patient compliance with a therapist's suggestions. To use validation, the therapist validates the patient's thoughts or actions make sense in the context of the patient's personal experience, although the therapist may not necessarily agree with the patient's thoughts or actions as a healthy, effective way to approach or solve a given situation. Validation helps build a closer rapport between the therapist and patient.

Read about the four models of dialectical behavior therapy now.

HealthPrep Staff