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DBT is a type of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that was originally developed to treat a specific condition: Borderline Personality Disorder.

It has since been applied to other mental health issues, and is particularly useful for people with significantly dysregulated emotions. There are significant similarities between DBT and CBT.


Distinctions between CBT and DBT


  • Greater focus on acceptance and change. This is the ‘dialectical’ part: integrating concepts that might feel like opposites, like acceptance of oneself and acknowledging the need for change.

  • Therapy structure. Often (but not always) clients will be engaged in a group skills training program while completing individual psychological therapy sessions. The group sessions teach certain behavioural and emotional skills, while the individual therapy focuses on personal challenges and progress.

  • Four key skill areas. DBT has a focus on specific, important skills: Mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, interpersonal effectiveness

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