If You’re Considering Psychotherapy, Here’s What You Need To Know About CBT And DBT


Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) are two of the most commonly practiced psychotherapy approaches. However, very few of us know what they involve.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a short-term, goal-oriented form of psychotherapy that takes a hands-on approach to problem-solving. The theory behind CBT posits that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interconnected, and therefore impact each other. Thus, the objective is to learn ways to alter patterns of thinking and behavior in order to impact our feelings. CBT works by helping individuals to challenge distorted thinking through highlighting core beliefs that an individual has formed throughout their life. CBT is often utilized to treat a wide range of concerns, from unhealthy sleeping habits (like insomnia or hypersomnia) and relationship issues, to clinical disorders such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Alternatively, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) seeks to build upon the theory of CBT and improve its viability. Additionally, it seeks to address particular concerns that the author of DBT, Marsha Linehan, saw as shortfalls in CBT. DBT therefore differs from CBT in that it emphasizes the psycho-social perspectives of treatment and how an individual interacts in interpersonal relationships. DBT hypothesizes that practicing awareness of yourself and others, as well as adjusting unhealthy behaviors, will produce changes in the way you think about relationships. This is often done through completing four treatment modules: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. DBT was initially created to assist and treat individuals with borderline personality disorder, but is presently utilized to treat a wide range of concerns such as suicidal ideation, self-harm behavior, eating disorders, mood disorders (like depression or bipolar disorder), and PTSD.

Both CBT and DBT recognize the importance of investigating an individual’s history and to assist clients in understanding how their past may be affecting their current circumstances. In any case, discussion of one’s past isn’t a center in either frame of treatment, nor is it a distinction between the two modalities.

Deciding whether cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is right for you is a decision best made with the help of an experienced therapist. Both of these modalities have evidence-based research supporting their efficacy and have been demonstrated to assist individuals with a wide variety of mental health concerns. However, any effective psychological treatment should be tailored to the specific needs of the individual it is serving. If you are interested in learning more about CBT or DBT, or are interested in engaging in one of these types of therapy, contact a mental health professional for more information!