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Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), developed by Marsha Linehan PhD at the University of Washington, is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on behavioural change for individuals with extreme emotions and distress.
DBT’s focus is on increasing an individual’s capacity to regulate emotions, tolerate distress, and reduce impulsivity. The “D” means “dialectical.” A dialectic is a synthesis or integration of opposites. In DBT, dialectical strategies help both the therapist and the client get unstuck from extreme positions. Dialectical strategies keep the therapy in balance and help clients reach their ultimate goals as quickly as possible. The “B” stands for “behavioural.” DBT requires a behavioural approach. This means that we assess the situations and target behaviours that are relevant to our clients’ goals in order to figure out how to solve the problems in their lives. The “T” stands for “therapy” which DBT is.
Since Marsha Linehan’s original approach was published in the 1980s a range of DBT and DBT-informed approaches have been developed and validated through research and evaluation.