DBT belongs to the group of approaches to psychotherapy that represent a development of and deviation from traditional cognitive behavioural therapy approaches. This is an integrative, synthetic, and dialectic approach that continually changes in response to new research evidence.
Emphasis is on changing problematic behaviors (e.g. self-harm, misuse of drugs and alcohol, bingeing, i.e. excessive eating, and purging) that the client engages in to manage or escape painful emotions, or for some other reason. Thus, the function of the behaviour needs to be assessed. The focus on change is balanced with mindfulness practice and radical acceptance with the aim of transforming suffering into ordinary pain.
One of the main goals of therapy is to train clients in skills (distress tolerance, emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness). This way, clients can improve their ability to tolerate and manage difficult and painful experiences effectively. The focus on behavioural change is balanced with Zen practice within DBT. Mindfulness and radical acceptance emphasise acceptance of the present moment rather than changing the current situation.
Evidence currently suggests that DBT is effective in reducing suicidal and self-harming behaviour in individuals with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. There is also evidence to suggest that the positive outcome of DBT for suicidality and impulsivity is comparable to that of long-term psychodynamic therapy.
For further information on DBT, see https://behavioraltech.org