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What is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy?

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, or DBT, was created by Marsha Linehan in the 1980s. She grew up suffering from borderline personality disorder, which at the time, there wasn’t a real treatment for.

As she recovered, she wanted to develop psychotherapy that could treat others like her, and help them find the relief that she had found. DBT is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy that is designed to treat many mental illnesses and personality disorders and is a great pillar of treatment today

Who Can DBT Be Useful For?

Alongside people who suffer from borderline personality disorder, those who struggle with other mental and personality disorders can benefit from DBT. This therapy is geared towards people with an extremely emotional response in daily life.

Their emotions tend to be ignited much faster and reach high levels quicker than the average person. The struggle within interpersonal relationships is another common factor for those treated with DBT.

Often, they find it difficult to build or maintain friendships, relationships with significant others or family members. Intense mood swings or levels of emotion that they cannot control make it difficult to navigate interactions with other people.

DBT is designed to assist people who suffer from symptoms such as these in finding ways to cope with their emotions and connect with others. 

The Pillars of DBT

Beginning dialectical behavioral therapy, many people do not have proper coping techniques to handle and participate in everyday life. Throughout the therapy, both individual and group therapy, they learn skills to practice and exercise in specific situations to feel more equipped to manage their lives.

DBT covers four modules that represent essential aspects of life. These are Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Distress Tolerance, and Emotion Regulation.

Mindfulness is the central idea of all skills taught in DBT. Through Mindfulness, the practice of being present in each moment is crucial in addressing situations as they arise and handling them successfully.

In Interpersonal Effectiveness, the skills are geared towards interactions with others, and problem-solving techniques to maintain relationships. This is where the practice of reaching goals and getting what you need in a suitable way is discussed.

Distress Tolerance is centered on refocusing how to accept, understand, and handle situations of distress. This module is based heavily on changing negative behaviors or emotions into positive ones in order to overcome difficult times where in the past, impulsivity and damage may have been the solution.

Finally, in Emotion Regulation, skills are learned to identify and understand emotions, as well as practicing taking opposite action for and reducing vulnerability to negative emotions. 


The combining effect of these four modules and the skills they teach allows someone struggling with a personality disorder to cope better with daily life and reintegrate into the world around them. DBT can be the biggest help in restoring someone suffering from borderline personality disorder or other mental illnesses to a full and happy life.


It is possible to understand and navigate our emotions, as well as to find healthy ways to cope with them. If you are struggling with mental health or intense emotions, call The Guest House Ocala 855-979-8446. We treat many different mental illnesses, and can get you started on your way to satisfying life!