Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) is a type of talking therapy used in treating mental conditions. While it is primarily used for Borderline Personality Disorder, it can also be used for other conditions too.

When considering engaging in therapy, it is worthwhile researching the different types available – this article provides some key areas worth knowing in regards to DBT.

What is Dialectical Behavioural Therapy?

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT): DBT is a type of therapy that is tailor-made for Borderline Personality Disorder, though can also be useful for many other conditions. The therapy runs on the basis that an individual is emotionally vulnerable, and that the individual grew up in an environment where emotions were dismissed and not treated. These factors cause an individual to feel guilty or ashamed for having upsetting emotions, which leads to more upset. DBT aims to change this system, using a range of techniques to help, with a focus on acceptance and problem-solving.

1. The creator of DBT, Marsha Linehan, was diagnosed with Schizophrenia

The story behind DBT’s creation is rather fascinating. A woman named Marsha Linehan found the type of therapy, drawing on her own personal experience of struggling with mental health.

Linehan was diagnosed with Schizophrenia, and subjected to powerful antipsychotic medication, electro-convulsive therapy and solitary confinement.

Linehan however maintained that she was misdiagnosed and that instead she had been suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder.

Drawing on her experiences, Linehan formulated Dialectical Behavioural Therapy – which has gone on to help many people.

2. DBT was initially based on CBT

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy was initially based on the concepts of CBT, but its creator – Marsha M. Linehan – wanted to make her own improvements on it, and make it tailor-made for Borderline Personality Disorder.

3. DBT can be used for other mental health conditions

While DBT was made specifically for Borderline Personality Disorder, it can also be used for other mental health conditions, especially other personality disorders.

DBT is also increasingly being used for eating disorders. It can also help in some cases of Depression, Bipolar Disorder, and feasibly many other mental health conditions.

4. DBT is based on two potential key causes of mental health conditions

DBT is based on the idea that two key factors contribute towards a person developing a mental health condition.

The first factor is that a person is vulnerable emotionally. The second factor is that the person grew up in an environment where they were neglected, or their emotions were dismissed by all those around them.

This results in a person having negative emotions due to their vulnerability, yet they also feel worthless and guilty for having these emotions.

5. The evidence is positive

Evidence suggests that DBT is highly-effective for Borderline Personality Disorder. It has shown to be particularly good in treating women with a history of self-harm.

It has also been shown to be effective in treating eating disorders. But research is mixed on whether or not DBT is useful in treating depression.

6. The patient-therapist relationship is important

One key element of DBT is the need for the patient and his/her therapist to have a strong bond. The patient will need to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings with their therapist.

In return they will get a non-judgemental environment where they should receive validation of their thoughts, experiences, emotions and feelings.

7. DBT can be delivered in a group

When a person uses the NHS, it is likely that they will receive DBT in a group setting. This can sound daunting, but it can also be very positive.

By being in a group setting, it can help show an individual that their feelings are common and validated. Hearing from others in a similar position is very useful.

8. DBT aims for emotional regulation

The main goal of DBT is for a person to attain a higher degree of emotional regulation. This is crucial in Borderline Personality Disorder.

DBT also teaches tolerance to distress, which can help in moments of crisis. Finally, DBT emphasises self-respect, which can help in relationships and friendships.

Therefore, there are certainly many positive areas to DBT, and it continues to help many people.

See Also


This website should be used purely for informational purposes, and does not intend to, nor should it ever, be used as a replacement for professional medical advice.

We strive to keep all of our pages updated, and ensure that our website is full of factual and in-depth information. However, we encourage you to browse this website with care.

As a reminder, this website and all content within it cannot and should not replace the advice of a trained medical professional. You can read our full disclaimer at this link.


If you are struggling with your mental health, help is available. With the right support and treatment, you can make a recovery. For information on helplines, or if you are in a state of crisis, please visit our crisis page by clicking on the relevant link for your geographical location (United Kingdom), (United States), (International). You can also see how to get mental health treatment and the process involved by clicking this link.