Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy, Aspire Counseling DenverAccording to PsychCentral, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a specific type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy developed in the late 1980’s by a psychologist by the name of Marsha Linehan to help treat Borderline Personality Disorder. Since its development, it’s also been used to treat other mental health issues.

DBT emphasizes the psychosocial aspects of treatment. The theory behind DBT states that some people react in irrational or magnified ways towards emotional situations, specifically involving relationships.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) v. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

When using CBT, thoughts are seen as the catalyst that then lead to behaviors. Alternatively, in DBT, emotions are seen as the catalyst to thoughts which then leads to behaviors. The difference is noteworthy in regards to treatment because some people have escalated emotional reactions that impede their ability to successfully follow a CBT model in therapy.

In those cases, a DBT model is needed in order for the client to find success.


Our therapists use DBT regularly, usually combined with other modalities. We find DBT to be helpful with Borderline Personality Disorder, clients struggling with addictions, clients struggling with eating disorders, anxiety, and depression. We often combine DBT with EMDR and have seen increased success doing so.

Check out this informational video to further understand the methods and reasons for Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and how it can help you or someone you love.