People often want to know whether DBT or CBT is the better approach for them or a family member.
Below is a summary of the two treatment approaches, as well as some information about who might be best suited to each type of therapy.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT will teach you how your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors influence each other. For example, if you believe that people don’t like you (thought), you might avoid social situations (behavior) and feel lonely (feeling). However, CBT teaches you how to use these relationships to your advantage: a positive change in one factor (changing a thought or behavior) can lead to positive changes in all three. CBT is an approach that has been proven by research to work for many different mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and substance abuse problems.
CBT is structured, short-term, goal-oriented, and focused on the present. It starts with learning how an illness or challenge affects you. Next, we will practice skills and strategies like problem-solving or realistic thinking to help you make changes in your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Then you will know how you can use your new skills to deal with problems in the future.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy or DBT is based on CBT, with more focus on the emotional and social aspects. DBT helps people cope with extreme or unstable emotions and harmful behaviors. DBT is an evidence-based approach to help people regulate emotions. It started as a treatment for borderline personality disorder, and current research shows it may help with many different mental illnesses or concerns, particularly self-harm.
Key differences between CBT and DBT are validation and relationships. DBT teaches you that your experiences are real, and it shows you how to accept who you are, regardless of challenges or difficult experiences. Relationships are also very important in DBT—including the relationships between you and your DBT therapist. You may have frequent check-ins to talk about any successes or problems. Treatment can include a mix of one-on-one counselling sessions and group therapy sessions. In addition to CBT skills, you’ll gain tools for managing your emotions, building relationships with others, coping well with problems or distress, acceptance, and mindfulness.
My Name is Taylor. I specialize in working with behavioral issues, mental health disorders, or substance abuse problems. I’m the therapist people come to (including other therapists) when the help they need is hard to find in traditional therapy. I have helped many people get well who didn’t think they could, sometime after trying unsuccessfully with other counselors.
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