What is the difference between DBT and CBT Therapy?

Psychotherapy is offered by therapists in a variety of forms. A psychotherapist will consider factors including the nature of the problem being treated and the person’s personality when deciding which treatment will be most beneficial because some people respond better to one style of therapy than another. When a person speaks with a qualified therapist in a secure and private setting to explore and understand feelings and behaviours and develop coping mechanisms, this is referred to as psychotherapy or “talk therapy.”

How you respond to treatment depends on your condition. Every treatment works best when addressing a particular issue. However, a client’s treatment plan may include both dialectical behaviour therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy. Choosing either course of treatment does have some clear benefits, though. You have probably encountered Cognitive Behavioural Therapy throughout your investigation (CBT). In actuality, CBT encompasses a wide range of

therapeutic modalities, including Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). DBT was developed in part to overcome the shortcomings of the CBT approach. It expands on the principles of CBT, enhancing its efficacy and boosting your achievement.

The distinction between Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Dialectical Behavioural Therapy will be discussed in more detail in this article. In this manner, you can choose your therapy and mental health in an informed manner.


The term “dialectical” refers to the belief that acceptance and transformation, two opposites in therapy, work better together than they do separately.

DBT was initially developed to help individuals with borderline personality disorder and suicidal behaviour. However, it has been modified to address other mental health issues that put a person’s safety, relationships, ability to work, and emotional wellbeing at risk.

A severe emotional distress is a symptom of hostility, and heightened rejection sensitivity. Impulsive behaviour is widespread and includes drug usage, dangerous behaviour during sexual encounters, self-harm, and recurring life crises including homelessness and legal issues.


Intensive DBT emphasises four strategies for boosting life skills:

  • Tolerating extreme emotions like rage without acting rashly or turning to self-harm or drug misuse as a coping mechanism.
  • Managing emotions by identifying, naming, and modifying them.
  • Mindfulness: Increasing one’s self-awareness, awareness of others, and present-moment awareness.

Managing conflict and interacting assertively are two aspects of interpersonal effectiveness.

DBT offers a practical, staged strategy:

  • Stage 1: Addresses the most damaging behaviours toward oneself, such as attempted suicide or self-harm.
  • Stage 2: Starts to focus on quality-of-life abilities like emotional control, distress tolerance, and social effectiveness.
  • Stage 3: Improved relationships and self-esteem are the main goals of stage
  • Stage 4: Encourages increased happiness and interpersonal ties.

A brief explanation of the steps is provided below.


This type of therapy is intended to treat problems thoroughly and methodically in accordance with their seriousness. DBT treatment is staged since it was originally developed for people with severe emotional problems and suicide tendencies. This guarantees that all issues will finally be resolved. The following four stages are included in DBT:

Stage 1. This phase is concentrated on stabilisation. People seeking treatment may be struggling with issues like addiction, self-harm, or suicide thoughts. They frequently claim to feel as though their lives are at their lowest point ever. Safety and stabelisation are the main focuses of therapy. Helping people gain some control over harmful behaviours is the aim of this stage.

Stage 2. Although behaviours are more steady at this stage, there may still be mental health difficulties. Usually, emotional suffering comes to the surface. Exploration of traumatic experiences is done safely. This phase aims to allow patients to feel their emotional anguish rather than stifling or suppressing it.

Stage 3. This stage focuses on maintaining development and creating appropriate goals in order to improve quality of life. This phase aims to encourage stability and happiness.

Stage 4: During this phase, therapists assist clients in moving forward in their lives. People can develop new talents in treatment or pursue spiritual enlightenment. Helping people develop and maintain a persistent capacity for enjoyment and achievement is the aim of this stage.

improving motivation. To eliminate harmful behaviours that might adversely influence quality of life, DBT employs customised behavioural therapy regimens. For instance, therapists may employ tracking sheets for self-monitoring so that sessions can be modified to focus on the most serious problems first.

Therapists’ skills and motivation are improved. DBT is frequently given to persons who have severe, persistent, and profound mental health problems, so therapists get a lot of guidance and assistance to avoid things like burnout or vicarious traumatization. For instance, regular treatment-team meetings give therapists a venue to offer and receive support, education, and therapeutic direction.

DBT Criticisms and Restrictions A large body of evidence points to DBT as a successful treatment for a number of mental health conditions. However, there are several drawbacks and restrictions. Numerous studies on the effectiveness of DBT were conducted using limited sample sizes and concentrated on a particular segment of the mental health population. Critics claim that further research is need to discover whether DBT is effective for people with a wide range of complicated mental health issues. The length of many DBT study trials reached a year. It was not known, nevertheless, if therapeutic benefits persisted after the post-treatment follow-up interviews. The discipline might benefit from more research monitoring treatment gains years after DBT delivery because the disorders addressed are persistent.

The term “cognitive behavioural therapy” is used.

The foundation of CBT is the notion that your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours are intertwined. In other words, what you do might be influenced by how you feel and think about something.

For instance, you can see things differently and make decisions you wouldn’t usually make if you’re under a lot of stress at work. However, the ability to alter these thinking and behaviour patterns is still another crucial CBT idea.

The American Psychological Association lists the following as the central ideas of CBT:

1. Negative thought patterns are a contributing factor in psychological problems

2. Learned behavioural patterns are a component of psychological problems

3. People suffering from these conditions can get better with better coping skills and symptom control.

Some of the most well-liked CBT methods are as follows:

SMART objectives. SMART goals are time-bound, specific, measurable, achievable, and realistic.

  • Questioning and guided exploration. Your therapist can teach you to question the presumptions you have about who you are or how things are now by asking you to examine other points of view.
  • Keep a journal. You can be requested to list the unfavourable thoughts that cross your mind each week along with the constructive ideas you can use in their place.

• Self-talk Your therapist may inquire as to what you tell yourself about a certain circumstance or event and urge you to switch out critical or unkind self-talk for kind and helpful self-talk.

Compared to other therapies, cognitive behavioural therapy

Although cognitive behavioural therapy is frequently regarded as the gold standard in psychotherapy, it is by no means the only strategy. Continue reading to learn about the many forms of treatment and which one may suit your needs the best.

Psychodynamic counselling

Compared to CBT, psychodynamic therapy frequently involves a lengthier course of treatment.

In psychoanalysis, where you are encouraged to talk about anything on your mind to discover patterns in your ideas or behaviour, psychodynamic treatment was developed. In psychodynamic therapy, you’ll look at your feelings, interactions, and thought patterns to investigate how your unconscious mind and your behaviours are related.

This type of therapy is effective for treating a number of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.

Behavior modification

According to behavioural theory, some behaviours that could negatively impact your life arise from lessons you learnt in the past. Instead of concentrating on the subconscious causes of your behaviour, the therapist will assist you change the distressing behavioural reactions and patterns.

The focus of behavioural therapy is frequently on current problems and solutions.

Humanistic counselling

The foundation of humanistic treatment is the notion that your own worldview influences your decisions and behaviour. With the help of a therapist, you’ll use this therapeutic method to comprehend your worldview and achieve genuine self-acceptance.


On differences between CBT and DBT

The key point of emphasis that separates Cognitive Behavioral Therapy from Dialectical Behavior Therapy is: While DBT concentrates on balance and the interaction between acceptance and transformation, CBT concentrates on thought patterns and how to reroute them. The ultimate goal of both dialectical behaviour therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy is to assist the client in altering their thought processes.

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