Dialectical Behavior Therapy


Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) was developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan at the University of Washington to teach people how to manage emotions. If you experience emotions intensely and have never been taught how to accept or attend to your feelings, you may find your emotions frightening or unmanageable. This treatment combines aspects of both behavior therapy and Zen tradition. Initially, DBT was created to help individuals who engaged in self-harm and suicidal behaviors due to emotional pain. In her clinical practice, Dr. Nam teaches elements from DBT when appropriate even to people who do not struggle with notable difficulties with emotions though they want to live more effectively in their life. 

What are the Components Of Comprehensive DBT?

There are four major components of a DBT program: skills training group, individual treatment, DBT phone coaching, and consultation team.

1. Skills training group covers four modules: Mindfulness, Distress Tolerance, Emotion Regulation and Interpersonal Effectiveness. Skills training group focuses on enhancing patients’ capabilities by teaching them behavioral skills. The group is run like a class where the group leader teaches the skills and assigns homework for patients to practice skill application in their everyday lives.

Briefly, DBT skills include the following:

  • Mindfulness– being in the moment and learning to observe one’s thoughts, emotions and experience in order to live your life with purpose.
  • Emotion Regulation– skills to help you identify and understand emotions and respond in effective ways. 
  • Distress Tolerance– tools to help you manage intense emotions and crises without making your problems worse.
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness– strategies to be effective in relationships.

2. Weekly individual sessions are offered that focus on individualizing the skills and focusing on building a life worth living. 

3. DBT phone coaching is focused on providing clients with in-the-moment coaching on how to use skills to effectively cope with difficult situations.

4. DBT therapist consultation team is structured to help therapists stay effective and competent so they can provide the best treatment possible. 

What is the difference between Comprehensive DBT and DBT-Informed Treatment?

Comprehensive DBT includes all four components of DBT: individual therapy, skills training, phone coaching and DBT consultation team. DBT-Informed Treatment will include elements of DBT, but may not meet all the components of a comprehensive DBT model.