Psych Central

I’m pleased to introduce you to Dialectical Behavior Therapy Understood, a blog about DBT by Christy Matta.

What the heck is dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and why does it have such a weird name?

DBT is a specific type of therapy invented in the early 1990s by Marsha Linehan, a psychologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, to treat borderline personality disorder. Its primary focus is providing a validating environment for someone with this disorder, and helping them view the therapist as an ally in growth and change. Linehan also recognized that people with borderline personality disorder often lacked certain skills that most of us learn intrinsically, which made their lives even more difficult. The skills are taught in four parts and include Mindfulness, Interpersonal effectiveness, Emotion regulation and Distress tolerance.

DBT is traditionally done in an outpatient setting and involves both individual psychotherapy with the therapist, as well as a group therapy component. Both components are considered a vital part of dialectical behavior therapy.

Where does the name come from? Dialectical refers to a method of argument which is characterized by, according to Wikipedia, “the participants, even if they do not agree, share at least some meanings and principles of inference.” This refers to the therapeutic alliance the therapist seeks to build and maintain with the person with borderline personality disorder. (Relationships of this nature are often challenging for someone with this disorder, hence the reason this is emphasized as a component of this therapy.) Behavior refers to the fact that many of the techniques used by this specific type of psychotherapy are rooted in well-researched cognitive-behavioral theory.

Christy Matta, M.A., is a trainer, consultant and freelance writer. She has worked in mental health since 1994, is intensively trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and has extensive training in Mindfulness. She is an experienced group leader and trainer in both Mindfulness and DBT Skills Groups.

Check out the new blog now: Dialectical Behavior Therapy Understood and give her a big, warm welcome here.



View Comments / Leave a Comment

This post currently has 2 comments.
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.

    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Apr 2010
    Published on All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2010). Introducing Dialectical Behavior Therapy Understood. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 16, 2014, from


Recent Comments
  • taosword: You are right in that betrayal when properly integrated can lead to wisdom and maturity. In addition to...
  • Yoake: Well begun is not “Well done!” Endure to the end.
  • Heartbroken Housewife: My heart has been broken by my husband on numerous occasions due to the internet. Until him I...
  • macblake: I am a 55 year old male and have battled chronic depression for as long as I can remember. After an 8 year...
  • Janet Singer: Interesting post, but oversimplified, in my opinion. I have never heard of anyone “cured of...
Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code

Users Online: 13061
Join Us Now!