Saul Mcleod, Ph.D., is a qualified psychology teacher with over 18 years experience of working in further and higher education. He has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Clinical Psychology. DBT is a type of therapy that’s often used to reduce symptoms of BPD, but it has some other uses as well.

  • Perhaps more importantly, the study demonstrated that utilization of high-cost inpatient services decreased by 50% and length of stay by 69%.
  • In individual sessions, patients review difficult situations and feelings they faced the prior week and engage in problem-solving by actively discussing ways of behaving that might have delivered a positive outcome.
  • In the 1980s, psychologist Dr. Marsha Linehan noticed that CBT was not working well with patients who experienced suicidal behaviors, self-harm tendencies, or had borderline personality disorder.

In summary, the patients for whom DBT has the strongest and most consistent empirical support include parasuicidal women with BPD. There also are some promising data on DBT for women with BPD who struggle with substance use problems. Preliminary data suggest that DBT may have promise in reducing binge-eating and other eating-disordered behaviors. On the one hand, the most conservative clinical choice would be to limit DBT to women with BPD. On the other hand, DBT is a comprehensive treatment that includes elements of several evidence-based, cognitive-behavioral interventions for other clinical problems.

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Also, not all insurance plans cover comprehensive DBT treatment with skills training groups. If you use self-injury as a way to cope with overwhelming and painful emotions, DBT can teach you safer and more effective self-soothing strategies, says Danielle McGraw, a licensed clinical psychologist and owner of Flourish Mental Wellness. In deciding whether to use DBT or other treatments for a particular patient, one key deciding factor is the research data on the treatment with patients that are similar in terms of problem areas, diagnoses, or characteristics to the patient in question. It’s crucial to consider personalized treatment plans and explore alternative therapeutic approaches for those who may not respond optimally to DBT.

By teaching behavioral skills for dealing with that pain, DBT can help reduce suicidal thoughts and urges. One study found reduced feelings of shame, anxiety, and trauma-related guilt for individuals with PTSD after DBT (Harned et al., 2014). Each phase builds on the last, guiding the client from crisis stabilization to enhanced life meaning and satisfaction. The progression equips clients with layered skills for safety, emotional control, self-efficacy, and social fluency so they can pursue life goals.

Borderline personality disorder

We use only trustworthy sources, including peer-reviewed studies, board-certified medical experts, patients with lived experience, and information from top institutions. This web-based tool is designed to help patients who are in therapy with a trained DBT professional. There are a few helpful ways you can prepare yourself for your first DBT session, says Shah.

Ultimately, this work culminated in a comprehensive, evidence-based, cognitive-behavioral treatment for borderline personality disorder (BPD). The standard DBT treatment package consists of weekly individual therapy sessions (approximately 1 hour), a weekly group skills training session (approximately 1.5–2.5 hours), and a therapist consultation team dialectical behavioral therapy meeting (approximately 1–2 hours). At present, eight published, well-controlled, randomized, clinical trials (RCTs) have demonstrated that DBT is an efficacious and specific2 treatment for BPD and related problems. The standard form of DBT consists of individual therapy, skills training group, phone coaching, and a therapist consultation team.

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In addition to regular therapy sessions, people are also required to do “homework” to work on skills outside of the individual, group, and phone counseling sessions. This may pose a challenge for people who have difficulty keeping up with these assignments on a regular basis. Because this approach to therapy is able to help people successfully improve their coping skills, they are able to develop effective ways to manage and express strong emotions. Researchers have also found that DBT is effective regardless of a person’s age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, and race/ethnicity.

For instance, while it may prove helpful for managing emotional responses to certain triggers, it may not provide the space you need to dig deep enough into how past events affected you. One of the main limitations of DBT, according to Milhoan, is there aren’t always enough therapists trained in this modality to meet the high demand for this treatment. Kerwin also suggests using Behavior Tech’s Find A Therapist tool to find mental health professionals who have been trained at the Linehan-founded DBT Institute. This is intended for individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder who have a therapist in the community whom they see at least bi-weekly. Shorter programs, sometimes called “DBT-informed programs,” use some methods or structure of DBT and can be very helpful for certain people. While DBT has shown promising results for many individuals, it’s important to acknowledge that it may not be effective for everyone.