Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, often called DBT, is a well-established and evidence-based therapeutic approach that helps individuals grappling with complex emotional and psychological challenges. By equipping people with invaluable skills to navigate adversity, fostering healthier thought patterns, and nurturing self-awareness, DBT paves the way for personal growth and offers a lifeline for those facing conditions like borderline personality disorder, mood disorders, and more. Through creating a warm and empathetic treatment environment, DBT empowers individuals to seize control of their lives, embarking on a journey to unearth their authentic selves.

DBT programme woman in DBT therapy

What’s the difference between CBT and DBT?

While both forms of psychotherapy, DBT builds upon CBT‘s techniques for identifying and challenging negative thought patterns and behaviours. However, it expands upon this foundation by strongly emphasising additional elements such as mindfulness, emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal skills. This comprehensive approach sets DBT apart from traditional CBT, making it particularly effective for individuals dealing with emotional dysregulation and complex interpersonal challenges.

This integration of mindfulness, acceptance, and dialectical thinking makes DBT a unique and comprehensive therapeutic approach, particularly effective for individuals struggling with emotional dysregulation and complex interpersonal issues.

Here are some examples of how DBT and CBT differ:

Examples CBT DBT
Targeted conditions CBT treats many mental health issues, including anxiety disorders,
depression, phobias, and more. It is
often used for individuals with a variety of diagnoses.
DBT was initially developed for individuals with BPD but is also used for
other conditions, especially those involving emotional dysregulation, self-harm, and impulsive
Core principles CBT focuses on identifying and challenging irrational or negative
thought patterns and beliefs. It aims to help individuals replace these thoughts with more rational
and positive ones.
DBT integrates mindfulness and acceptance techniques alongside CBT. It emphasises the dialectical balance between acceptance of the individual’s current state and the need
for change. DBT also includes specific skills training in emotion regulation, distress tolerance,
interpersonal effectiveness, and mindfulness.
Therapeutic techniques CBT primarily uses cognitive restructuring, behavioural experiments, and
exposure therapy to help individuals change their thought patterns and behaviours.
DBT incorporates techniques from CBT but adds mindfulness practices,
emotional regulation strategies, and interpersonal effectiveness skills. It also includes group
therapy as a core component.
Therapist role In CBT, the therapist often takes a more directive role in identifying and challenging negative thought
patterns and behaviours.
In DBT, the therapist takes a more collaborative and accepting stance, working with the client to find a
balance between acceptance and change.
Emphasis on dialectics DBT strongly emphasises dialectics, which means finding a balance between opposing forces or ideas. This
reflects the idea that individuals can accept their current state while also working toward change.

CBT and DBT are both effective forms of psychotherapy, but they differ in various aspects. The choice between them often depends on the specific needs and diagnoses of the individual seeking therapy.

What issues can DBT treat?

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a versatile and evidence-based approach to therapy, adept at addressing a wide range of emotional and psychological challenges. Whether you’re struggling with a specific diagnosis or seeking tools for improving your overall well-being, DBT can offer meaningful support.

Here are some of the primary issues that DBT is known to treat effectively:

  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD): DBT was initially developed to help individuals with BPD. It has since become the gold standard for treating this condition, reducing self-destructive behaviours, mood swings, and impulsivity.
  • Mood disorders: DBT is highly effective in managing mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder. It equips individuals with emotional regulation skills to better handle the highs and lows of these conditions.
  • Self-harm and suicidal behaviour: DBT provides essential strategies for reducing self-harming behaviours and addressing suicidal thoughts. It offers individuals healthier coping mechanisms to navigate depression and emotional distress.
  • Substance abuse: Many people struggling with addiction also benefit from DBT. It helps them manage cravings, cope with triggers, and build a foundation for lasting recovery.
  • Eating disorders: DBT can be integrated into treating various eating disorders, such as bulimia, binge eating, and anorexia. It promotes a healthier relationship with food and one’s body.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): For those dealing with the aftermath of trauma, DBT can assist in managing symptoms, promoting emotional regulation, and improving overall well-being.
  • Impulse control disorders: DBT provides tools to manage impulsive behaviours, such as reckless spending, gambling, or explosive anger outbursts.
  • General emotional dysregulation: Even if you don’t have a specific diagnosis, DBT can help you build essential life skills. It enhances emotional regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and mindfulness, fostering personal growth and resilience.
  • Relationships and interpersonal challenges: DBT is renowned for improving interpersonal skills, making it valuable for individuals looking to enhance their relationships and communication.


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How does DBT work and what techniques are used?

DBT is a multifaceted therapeutic approach designed to help individuals cope with emotional and psychological challenges, particularly those associated with emotion dysregulation, impulsive behaviours, and interpersonal difficulties. DBT combines various techniques and strategies aimed at promoting emotional regulation, mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, and distress tolerance.

Here’s an overview of how DBT works and some of the techniques used:



  • Dialectical philosophy: DBT is rooted in dialectics, which means finding a balance between seemingly opposing forces. It encourages individuals to accept themselves as they are while also recognising the need for change. This balanced approach helps people build a stronger sense of self and reduce self-destructive behaviours.



  • Mindfulness: Mindfulness is a core component of DBT. It involves being fully present in the moment and observing one’s thoughts, emotions, and surroundings without judgement. Mindfulness techniques help individuals become more aware of their inner experiences, making it easier to manage emotions and stress.



  • Emotion regulation: DBT helps individuals understand and regulate their emotions. Techniques in this area involve identifying and labelling emotions, reducing emotional vulnerability, and developing healthier ways to cope with intense feelings.



  • Interpersonal effectiveness: DBT teaches effective communication skills, boundary-setting, and problem-solving strategies for healthier relationships. It equips individuals to navigate challenging social interactions and maintain better connections.



  • Distress tolerance: DBT provides tools to tolerate and cope with emotional distress without resorting to destructive behaviours. This is particularly helpful for managing self-destructive urges or impulsive actions.



  • Diary cards: Patients often keep diary cards to track their emotions, behaviours, and the use of DBT skills. These cards help individuals and their therapists identify patterns and measure progress.


  • Individual therapy: In one-on-one sessions, individuals work with a therapist to address their concerns and learn how to apply DBT skills to their unique situations.



  • Group therapy: Group therapy sessions create a supportive environment where individuals can practise DBT skills, share experiences, and receive feedback from both peers and therapists.



  • Assignments: Patients may receive assignments to reinforce and apply DBT skills in their everyday lives, fostering real-world application and growth.



  • Chain analysis: In DBT, individuals analyse the chain of events that lead to specific behaviours or emotional reactions, helping to understand triggers and develop strategies to break harmful patterns.


DBT is typically delivered in a structured and hierarchical manner, with individual therapy as the foundation and group therapy and assignments supporting the individual’s progress. The combination of these techniques and the holistic approach to emotional well-being makes DBT a comprehensive and effective treatment for a wide range of emotional and psychological challenges. It encourages individuals to build a life worth living, even in the face of significant difficulties.

What can I expect during a DBT session?

At the beginning of each session, your therapist will assess your current emotional challenges and review your objectives and action plans. In individual sessions, you’ll work on enhancing your emotional regulation skills. Group sessions provide a platform for applying these skills and receiving valuable input from fellow participants. DBT offers a comprehensive and structured approach to therapy, focusing on skill development and providing the tools you need to navigate emotional and psychological challenges more effectively. Your therapist will customise the treatment to your unique circumstances and needs.

DBT programme illustration of DBT

How can I use DBT after my treatment has ended?

After your DBT treatment has concluded, you can continue applying the skills and strategies you’ve learned daily. Maintain a diary to track your emotions and reactions, practice mindfulness to stay present and grounded, and engage in regular self-assessment to identify areas for improvement. Additionally, seek support from friends, family, or a therapist, as ongoing reinforcement and accountability can be invaluable in sustaining the benefits of DBT and ensuring long-term emotional well-being.

Why choose UKAT London Clinic for your DBT needs?

At UKAT London Clinic, we are committed to providing comprehensive care for individuals seeking Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Our dedication to emotional well-being and our expertise in DBT make us the premier choice for those looking to manage intense emotions, develop healthy coping strategies, and regain control of their lives.

Some examples why UKAT London Clinic stands out as your ideal destination for DBT therapy include:

  • Expertise in DBT: At UKAT London Clinic, we pride ourselves on our exceptional Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) expertise. Our team of experienced and highly trained therapists are well-versed in DBT techniques, making us a top choice for individuals seeking effective treatment for emotional dysregulation and related mental health challenges.
  • Comprehensive care: We understand that mental health and addiction issues often intertwine, and our integrated approach addresses both aspects. Our DBT programme is tailored to meet each patient’s unique needs, ensuring a comprehensive and personalised approach to healing.
  • Individualised treatment plans: Your journey towards emotional regulation and recovery is unique, and our approach reflects that. We create bespoke DBT treatment plans, considering your specific goals and challenges, to maximise your chances of success in managing intense emotions, building interpersonal skills, and reducing self-destructive behaviours.
  • Supportive Environment: At UKAT London Clinic, we create a safe and supportive environment where you can explore and develop the skills needed to manage your emotions and behaviours effectively. We understand the challenges you face, and our compassionate staff is dedicated to helping you on your path to recovery.
  • Convenient location: Located in the heart of London, our clinic offers a convenient and easily accessible location for residents of the city and its surrounding areas. We strive to make the process of getting the help you need as straightforward as possible.

Choosing UKAT London Clinic for your DBT needs means choosing a centre that combines expertise, compassion, and evidence-based practices to help you achieve emotional regulation and a healthier, more balanced life. Contact us today to learn more about how we can support your journey to recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I practise DBT on my own?
While it is possible to practise some aspects of DBT on your own, it is generally recommended to do so under the guidance of a trained therapist. DBT is a structured and complex therapy involving various skills and techniques. A therapist can provide essential guidance, feedback, and support tailored to your specific needs. However, self-help resources and apps can complement your DBT therapy or serve as a refresher after your treatment has ended. It’s always advisable to consult with a mental health professional to determine the most appropriate approach for your situation.
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