The Differences Between DBT and CBT

If you are seeking treatment for a mental health disorder or an addiction, there are dozens of types of therapy available to you. Some of the most beneficial and traditional forms of therapy involve the improvement of behavioral and communication skills.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) are two of the most common therapies available to those with mental illnesses. Both forms of therapy, while similar in some manners, are very different from one another in terms of their goals and processes to achieve them.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Most commonly used to treat Borderline Personality Disorder, suicidal tendencies, and self-harm, DBT therapy is designed to help you understand your emotions more clearly through the following skills:

  • Emotional regulation: During Dialectical Behavior Therapy, you will learn the skills needed to keep yourself in control of your emotions while learning how to understand them. By being able to recognize your emotions, you can also develop coping mechanisms to allow yourself to navigate through the ups and downs.
  • Interpersonal effectiveness: Not only will you be learning how to control your emotions, you will also learn how to cultivate and maintain relationships in all types of settings, including personal and professional environments.
  • Mindfulness: One of the most crucial skills of DBT, you will develop a strong sense of mindfulness, meaning you will become more in touch with your emotions in a healthy way to avoid self-harm or hurting others. Rather than putting your emotions on the back burner, you will learn how to face them head-on and address them to avoid a negative build up.

DBT is an extremely collaborative therapy. You will work side by side with your therapist to achieve positive results.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is often practiced with people who have anxiety, depression, or ADHD. CBT works to redirect self-destructive behaviors to avoid an individual’s personal and social damage.

  • Promote flexibility: With disorders such as ADHD or anxiety, it can be difficult for you to see the bigger picture. By learning how to promote flexibility, you can begin to understand how to work outside of the box, rather than just seeing everything in black or white. It can allow for your emotions to line up more properly and give you the power to control them better.
  • Perception: While it is unintentional, you might not see things the way that others do. You may feel more emotional about everyday things than others. You might feel out of control even when everything is really alright. CBT will help you understand how to develop an aerial view of what your situations really are to help provide you with clarity and the ability to handle them in a proper manner.
  • Achieve goals: By working with your therapist, you will set goals for yourself and work to achieve them. This is greatly beneficial to your development as you can use your goals to help drive you toward success.

While extremely similar in some case, DBT and CBT are geared toward the treatment of different disorders to help improve upon specific problems. It’s not to say that DBT might not work on a person with ADHD, or that CBT wouldn’t work on someone who has suicidal tendencies.

However, each therapy is designed to be tailored to the needs of the patient and their mental illness. CBT is a more hands-on, active type of therapy that focuses primarily on a person’s understanding of their behaviors and how they impact others, while DBT is designed to help a person stop themselves from performing negative behaviors that can hurt themselves and others.

Each form of therapy provides different results, but one common link between the two is that they help enhance the lives of those who need it.

Tags: CBT, dbt, dbt therapy


  1. DBT Programs Offered at Clearview Outpatient Treatment Center - Oct 25, 2013

    […] Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) […]

Leave a Reply