Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Dialectal Behavior Therapy (DBT): Which is right for you? 

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Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Dialectal Behavior Therapy (DBT): Which is right for you? 

                                Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Dialectal Behavior Therapy (DBT): Which is right for you? 

Psychotherapy is one of the best treatment methods available for several mental illnesses. One of the most common types of therapy is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  It is also referred to as “talk therapy”.  Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that helps people learn how to identify and subsequently alter destructive or disturbing thought patterns that have a negative influence on behavior (think cognition and behavior).  CBT is based on the idea that our thoughts and behaviors influence our feelings, so changing the way we think about and react to situations, will help us feel better.


Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) therapy’s main focus is on helping patients balance emotions and improving behavior patterns.  In this form of therapy, we begin with identifying the thought patterns and emotions that may be leading to distress. It then teaches us how to combine these thoughts with healthier ideas, leading to more beneficial look overall. DBT is a modified form of CBT, but its approach to treatment is distinct enough from CBT that the two models are usually considered unique. Also, DBT is often the most effective therapy for people with borderline personality disorder and those who struggle with self-harm or chronic thoughts of suicide.


Differences between CBT and DBT

Though the two therapy modules have similarities, they are not the same type of therapy module. Some may respond better to CBT, while others find that DBT works better for them.


Types of Sessions
Typically, CBT is more goal oriented. It aims to help us identify negative thoughts or behaviors and then it gives us the tools to adjust these problems. DBT does have goals, but they aren’t as firm. DBT’s main purpose is to help us find a way to accept ourselves, manage our emotions and to regulate destructive behavior. DBT focuses more on emotional and social aspects, while CBT is more about behavior.
A big difference in DBT vs CBT is how the approach. DBT is mostly focused on how a person interacts with others and themselves. It also tends to use a mindfulness philosophy to help us accept ourselves and our environment. Meanwhile, CBT tends to be more logic focused. Critical thinking skills are encouraged to be used to develop a healthier way of thinking and behaving.
CBT sessions are usually shorter sessions than DBT overall. CBT may only last a few weeks while DBT is often a months-long process. DBT also includes a group therapy component, an important difference between the two modules. Though CBT can, at times, include a group component, it’s not as essential as with DBT which allows for practicing skills such as interpersonal communication and a safe environment.

Because the two modules have different uses with CBT focusing on changing problematic behavior and DBT focusing on regulating intense emotions, research has found the following modules’ efficacies:



·         Learn techniques for coping with stressful life situations

·         Cope with having a chronic medical illness

·         Manage chronic pain or physical disabilities

·         Resolve conflicts in relationships and learn enhanced methods of more effective communication

·         Cope with grief or loss of loved ones

·         Overcome emotional trauma related to abuse, neglect or violence

·         Mental health disorders that may improve with CBT include:

o    Depression and Anxiety disorders

o    Sleep disorders and eating disorders

o    Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

·         Sexual disorders

·         Phobias and PTSD



·         Borderline personality disorder

·         Eating disorders

·         Self-harm

·         Substance abuse disorders


The best way to find out which type of therapy treatment is best for you is to talk with a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist or therapist. They will consider all factors including your symptoms, treatment history, and the goals that have been outlined individually for treatment and recommend the next steps.


Remember no medications can teach you more effective coping skills, more realistic thinking styles, healthier relationship styles, appropriate problem-solving skills, more effective decision-making strategies, how to build and maintain a support network, how to transcend an adverse personal history, and how to build a realistic and motivating future. You can get these things by working with a good therapist.


Are you ready to begin working with a good therapist? At Delray Beach Psychiatry, we have caring and compassionate therapists. We have a licensed psychologist, licensed clinical social workers and licensed mental health counselors on staff who have the training and experience to help with CBT or DBT modules of therapy. Contact us today.

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