The Power of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Available with English captions and subtitles in Spanish.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is one of the most effective and versatile mental health treatment options available today. Developed to help patients with borderline personality disorder, it is now also used to treat depression, binge eating disorder, bipolar disorder, bulimia, PTSD, and substance use disorders.

In recent years, DBT has helped countless people learn to manage their emotions, cope with difficult situations, and improve their relationships. Yet for all its success, this treatment approach is still widely misunderstood.

So, just what is DBT and how does it work? What sets it apart from other treatment options? And who stands to benefit the most from this type of therapy?

Audience Questions

Anna Precht, PsyD, provides an overview of dialectical behavior therapy and its application, offers tips for finding and working with a DBT provider, and answers audience questions about what to expect during and after treatment

  • Generally speaking, what is dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)?
  • Can you walk us through DBT’s history and evolution?
  • How have the applications for DBT expanded over the years?
  • How prevalent and popular is DBT among clinicians?
  • Can DBT be used for general mental well-being?
  • What are the skills most often associated with DBT?
  • How do DBT patients learn to integrate all these skills?
  • In terms of mindfulness, what is the value of being self-aware and present?
  • What are some common misconceptions about DBT?
  • What are the distinctions between cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and DBT?
  • What should we know about the mechanics of DBT in various settings (for example, individual versus group settings and inpatient versus outpatient therapy)?
  • How is DBT used in conjunction with other mental health treatments?
  • Is DBT appropriate for adults over 65 years old? Is it appropriate for kids and teens?
  • Can you take us through an example of the DBT process from start to finish? Does this process differ much from one diagnosis to another?
  • Do you have any suggestions for finding a DBT therapist?
  • What are some screening questions to ask when looking for a DBT therapist?
  • What do you suggest for someone interested in self-taught, self-paced workbooks when a therapist is not available?
  • What roles do family members have when a loved one is using DBT techniques?
  • How can someone encourage a loved one who is familiar with DBT to focus on their DBT skills when they are not able to do so on their own?
  • Do you have any suggestions for applying DBT to individuals with intellectual developmental disabilities and co-occurring mental health challenges?
  • How can someone without a diagnosed mental illness learn and apply DBT skills?
  • Where can clinicians find in-depth DBT training?
  • Is DBT being taught in college courses today?
  • Where do you see DBT going as it continues its evolution?
  • How can DBT be used to manage suicidal ideation and suicidal behaviors?
  • Can you talk a bit more about how interpersonal effectiveness and emotion regulation skills factor into DBT?
  • What can someone expect to get out of DBT therapy? And to what degree can they expect to turn around their mental health challenge by going through the process?
  • For someone undergoing DBT, are there signs that their therapist might not be a good fit?
  • What are some of the lessons you’ve learned from working with teens using DBT?

The information discussed is intended to be educational and should not be used as a substitute for guidance provided by your health care provider. Please consult with your treatment team before making any changes to your care plan.


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About Dr. Precht

Anna Precht, PsyD, is a clinical psychologist and the program director of McLean’s adolescent dialectical behavior therapy program for young men. She has extensive experience treating adults and adolescents using DBT in both individual and group settings.

Dr. Precht specializes in the use of evidence-based treatments and is particularly interested in the treatment of borderline personality disorder and self-injurious behaviors.

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Originally aired on April 20, 2023