Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?


Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based treatment that involves a team approach with a focus on enhancing self-respect and developing effective communication skills.

DBT was developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan and her team in the late 1980s to effectively treat people suffering from chronic suicidal behaviors and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). This therapy recognizes that some people lack effective skills to tolerate distress, regulate emotions, communicate wants and needs due to their environment and biological factors.

DBT has proven to be an effective treatment for:
• Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
• Suicidal behavior
• Eating disorders (such as anorexia nervosa, binge
eating disorder, and bulimia nervosa)
• Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
• Major depressive disorder (including treatment-
resistant major depression and chronic depression)
• Non-suicidal self-injury
• Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
• Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
• Substance use disorder
• Suicidal behavior

Dialectical Behaviorial Therapy (DBT) team approach requires active participation by everyone involved. Some DBT team members have specialties in psychotherapy, psychiatry, nursing and peer support.

The MCCMH Comprehensive DBT Program consists of:
• Individual Therapy
• Skills Training Groups
• Telephone Consultations
• Consultation Team Meetings
• Ancillary Treatment

How Dialectical Therapy Helps


“Dialectical” is a philosophical term that means two opposite things can be true at the same time. DBT therapy encourages and aids people in balancing two opposing goals – acceptance and change:

· Acceptance refers to doing one’s best and accepting life as it is.

· Change refers to working harder, being motivated, and altering behaviors to change one’s life.

DBT includes four behavioral skill modules, with two acceptance-oriented skills (mindfulness and distress tolerance) and two change-oriented skills (emotion regulation and interpersonal effectiveness.

Mindfulness – How to balance between logic and emotions to make wise decisions; the practice of being fully aware and present in the moment.

Distress Tolerance – How to cope with the stressors of everyday life, especially when difficulties occur.

Emotion Regulation – How to accurately define emotions and how to manage these emotions effectively. This includes understanding the role emotions play and how they are useful.

Interpersonal Effectiveness – How to interact effectively with others, have your needs met, and develop and maintain meaningful relationships.

MCCMH Dialectical Behavior Therapy programs teach skills that enable people to control their emotions, rather than let emotions control them.

Get started – If you are already involved in a CMH program, a referral can be made by your clinician. If you are interested in MCCMH services, call 855-996-2264. Treatment providers may submit referrals by email to [email protected], or by fax to DBT Team at 586.307.3771.



MACOMB COUNTY DBT ADOLESCENT PROGRAM is designed for 14-17 year olds includes weekly individual therapy and a weekly skills-training group for both the adolescent and their parent. In addition to addressing standard DBT challenges, this program helps young people with a history of psychiatric hospitalizations and/or legal problems, substance abuse/eating disorders, identity confusion, and family dilemmas.

For more information, call 855-996-2264