Understanding Dialectical Behaviour Therapy

If you are feeling overwhelmed with intense emotions and struggle with regulation, DBT might be an effective therapy for you. Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), developed by Dr. Marsha M. Linehan, tackles various mental health challenges through cognitive restructuring and acceptance. This blog explores how DBT can teach you important skills for your toolkit, and improve your mental health.

What is DBT?

DBT is a form of cognitive behavioural therapy that comes from the concept of “dialectics” - balancing opposites. This form of therapy involves acceptance of your experiences, while also working on changing certain unhelpful behaviours.

DBT aims to help individuals accept who they are, and build skills to regulate emotions and improve interpersonal relationships.

Who is DBT for?

DBT was designed for those with borderline personality disorder (BPD), and those with difficulties controlling emotions. It can treat other challenges such as:

  • Feeling empty or hopeless
  • Low self-esteem or self-hatred
  • Strong feelings
  • Mood swings
  • Risk taking and impulsive behaviour
  • Unstable relationships
  • Self-harm and suicidal thoughts
  • Alcohol or drug problems
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Emotional dysregulation
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

How Does It Work?

The 4 DBT Skills

DBT aims to help you develop skills in the following areas:

  1. Distress Tolerance
  2. Emotion Regulation
  3. Interpersonal Effectiveness
  4. Mindfulness

Distress Tolerance

Distress tolerance involves learning to understand your emotions in difficult situations, and managing them without using unhelpful behaviours.

Emotion Regulation

Emotion regulation involves becoming more aware of your emotions, so that you can have more control over them.

Interpersonal Effectiveness

Interpersonal effectiveness involves learning how to ask for what you need and set boundaries with respect for yourself and others.


Mindfulness involves becoming more self-aware and present in the moment, and reduces your worries about the past and future. This can help you to respond instead of react to situations.

Is DBT for you?

If DBT is something you feel you may benefit from, get in touch with our team. We offer face-to-face and online therapy across Australia for individuals experiencing a wide range of challenges. You can browse our team of therapists here.

For information about other therapy frameworks we may offer, please see our glossary of therapies.