Understanding Dialectical Behaviour Therapy

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is a form of psychotherapy that was developed by psychologist Marsha M. Linehan in the late 1980s. It was initially created to treat individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD), but has since been found to be effective in treating a wide range of mental health conditions.

What is Dialectical Behaviour Therapy?

DBT is a type of cognitive-behavioural therapy that combines elements of both individual therapy and group skills training. It is based on the theory that some people are more prone to intense emotional reactions and have difficulty regulating their emotions. DBT aims to help individuals develop new skills to manage their emotions, improve their relationships, and reduce self-destructive behaviors.

The Four Modules of DBT

DBT consists of four modules that are typically delivered over a period of several months. These modules include:

  • Mindfulness: This module focuses on increasing awareness of the present moment and developing skills to tolerate distress.
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness: This module helps individuals improve their communication and relationship skills.
  • Emotion Regulation: This module aims to help individuals identify and regulate their emotions in a healthy way.
  • Distress Tolerance: This module focuses on developing skills to tolerate and cope with distressing situations without engaging in self-destructive behaviors.

The Role of the Therapist

In DBT, the therapist plays a crucial role in providing support and guidance to the individual. The therapist helps the individual set goals, develop new skills, and apply these skills in real-life situations. They also provide validation and encouragement, while also challenging unhelpful thoughts and behaviors.

Effectiveness of DBT

Research has shown that DBT is effective in reducing self-harm behaviors, suicide attempts, and hospitalizations among individuals with BPD. It has also been found to be helpful in treating other mental health conditions, such as substance abuse, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


Dialectical Behaviour Therapy is a highly effective form of psychotherapy that can help individuals develop new skills to manage their emotions, improve their relationships, and reduce self-destructive behaviors. With its focus on mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance, DBT offers a comprehensive approach to mental health treatment.


The Australian DBT Institute was founded to promote the education of mental health professionals and to deliver Comprehensive DBT programs from our clinic in Bendigo Victoria. The Australian DBT Institute has hosted senior Behavioral Tech LLC trainers Meggan Moorhead (2004), Cedar Koons (2004), Robin McCann (2004), and Michel Galietta (2004) to support the development of mental health professionals in Australia.