Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)


Emotions can be hard to understand and even scary at times.

Especially when you find yourself going from zero to a hundred in a matter of seconds.

When our emotional reactions are extreme and rapidly changing, it’s usually because of unresolved trauma from our past.

Child abuse, neglect, sexual assault, or loss of a loved one are all examples of traumatic situations that can affect your life in the present in ways you may not even realize are connected. 

If your emotions often feel out of control, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a research-proven method that can help you develop greater peace, emotional stability, and resiliency. 

DBT can help you feel more grounded by teaching you practical and research-proven techniques and coping skills to help you move through your emotional ups and downs and trauma symptoms with greater strength. 

Unresolved trauma can make us react in extreme ways, especially toward friends, family, and romantic partners, and can cause our physiological arousal and stress levels to spike faster than the average person.

DBT is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy specifically developed to target extreme emotions and relational difficulties. 

Our DBT therapists will teach you practical, empirically validated skills to help you with intense surges of emotion and the ways they affect your relationships and self-esteem. 

DBT was developed by Dr. Linehan in the 1980s when she noticed that CBT—Cognitive Behavioral Therapy—wasn’t quite cutting it with her patients with severe trauma that affects their emotional regulation and relationships.

DBT was specifically created to treat Borderline Personality Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but it is also successful in improving a variety of other mental health issues, such as addiction and Bipolar Disorder.

Plus, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy also helps you develop some crucial life skills, like tolerating distress, practicing mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, and regulating your emotions.

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What Conditions does DBT Treat?

According to behavioraltech.org, DBT has been proven by research to be effective for the following conditions and mental health concerns:

How DBT Works

Let’s dive in deeper to explore exactly how DBT works.

  • Mindfulness
      • DBT uses mindfulness techniques to help you become more grounded by becoming more aware of your surroundings. For trauma survivors, this is an important step that you need to take before being able to face and release your emotions effectively. DBT uses mindfulness to help guide your focus in ways that are healing and how to separate what you’re feeling from what you’re thinking.
  • Tolerating distress
      • Tolerating distress is a vital skill that allows you to develop the capacity to rely on healthy coping mechanisms when dealing with challenging situations. We’ll teach you how to “distract rather than react,” so that you can face a difficult situation once you’ve calmed down and are able to communicate in empowered and effective ways. We’ll also provide you with helpful self-soothing skills to help you weather the storm and feel more in control of your feelings and reactions.
  • Interpersonal effectiveness
      • Interpersonal effectiveness focuses on how your emotions impact your relationships, and how to approach your emotions and relationships in ways that are healing rather than destructive. We’ll teach you how to take small steps in achieving your interpersonal goals, as well as respecting yourself and working through challenges you might face in any relationship.
  • Emotional Regulation
    • By learning how to regulate your emotions, you’ll be able to acknowledge your emotions, be mindful of what you’re feeling, and solve problems in a way that is empowering and healing.

Research-based, personalized therapy.

At My LA Therapy, our warm and experienced therapists specialize in anxiety, depression, trauma, & relationships.


Types of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

There are many different types of DBT treatment with different focuses. These can include any combination of the following:

  • Support-Oriented Dialectical Behavior Therapy
      • This helps you identify your strengths and builds on them so that you begin to experience higher confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth.
  • Cognitive-Based Dialectical Behavior Therapy
      • This helps you identify unhealthy thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions, and learn different ways of thinking that’ll make life a lot easier to navigate.
  • Collaborative Dialectical Behavior Therapy
    • This type of DBT examines the relationship between you and your therapist. As you explore your relationship with your therapist, you can begin to develop new ways of dealing with outside relationships and coping with conflicts. Through this type of DBT, you are encouraged to complete homework assignments, to role-play new ways of interacting with others, and to practice self-soothing skills when you’re upset. The skills you will learn focus on interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, reality acceptance, emotional regulation, and mindfulness with your relationship with your therapist.

Our Therapy Methods

Therapy can successfully improve your life by minimizing the anxiety in your life, identifying and changing underlying thought and behavioral patterns that contribute to your struggles, and providing you with strategies to decrease discomfort while restoring an overall sense of peace.

Our therapists are ready to guide you through the DBT process so that you can learn the valuable skills you need to turn negative behaviors into positive and healing ones.

DBT is an evidence-based, scientifically proven intervention that is demonstrated by research to be effective in addressing a wide range of psychological issues such as PTSD, Borderline Personality Disorder, emotional volatility, relational difficulties, addiction, self-harm, and Bipolar Disorder.

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At My LA Therapy, our highly-vetted Dialect Behavioral experts are selected not only for their clinical acumen but for who they are.

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