Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Core Principles and Modules

DBT operates on two main philosophical principles: acceptance and change. It combines standard cognitive-behavioral techniques for emotion regulation and reality-testing with the concepts of mindfulness and acceptance derived from Buddhist meditative practices. The “dialectical” aspect involves balancing opposites, primarily the fundamental need for acceptance and the necessity for change, in a cohesive framework that aids effective treatment. DBT comprises four core modules:

The practice of being fully present and engaged in the current moment, observing thoughts and feelings without judgment.
Techniques to identify and manage emotionally triggering situations effectively without making them worse.
Strategies to cope with emotional pain and stress in a healthy manner; when you cannot change the reality.
Skills for managing boundaries, making requests, navigating interpersonal conflicts and fostering healthy relationships.

A Holistic Approach to Managing Emotions and Relationships

The pursuit of emotional well-being is a journey filled with both challenges and triumphs. In the realm of mental health and wellness, a myriad of therapeutic approaches exist to help individuals navigate their emotional landscapes. Among these, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) has emerged as a particularly effective method for those struggling with emotional dysregulation, interpersonal difficulties, and other complex psychological issues. In this article, I’ll introduce you to the foundational elements of DBT, illustrating how it can be a vital resource for your coaching clients.

The Genesis of DBT: A Brief History

Dialectical Behavior Therapy was developed in the late 1980s by psychologist Marsha M. Linehan as a means to treat Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). However, over time, it has been adapted to treat a variety of conditions, including depression, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders. Linehan found that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) alone was insufficient for some patients, especially those exhibiting self-destructive behaviors and severe emotional instability. DBT was thus designed to incorporate Eastern mindfulness practices and the concept of dialectics to provide a more holistic treatment (Linehan, 1993).

Relevance in Coaching

DBT skills can be incredibly useful in a coaching context for people who struggle with emotional regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and consistent unwanted behaviors that hinder their health and wellness. By engaging with structured skill-building exercises and mindfulness practices, you can learn to:

  • Enhance your awareness and understanding of yourself and your interactions with others.
  • Develop effective coping mechanisms for stressful situations.
  • Build and maintain rewarding relationships.

My role as your coach or therapist involves not just imparting these skills but also providing an empathetic, safe, and non-judgmental space where you can openly discuss your challenges and accomplishments.

Empirical Support for DBT

Several empirical studies and meta-analyses have confirmed the efficacy of DBT in various contexts. For example, a study published in the “Journal of Clinical Psychology” found that DBT led to significant reductions in self-harm and suicidal ideation (Kliem et al., 2010). Another study in “Behaviour Research and Therapy” concluded that DBT showed long-term effectiveness in reducing symptoms related to emotional dysregulation (Linehan et al., 2006). Refer to the bibliography page for several more sources.


In the increasingly complex tapestry of mental health treatments, Dialectical Behavior Therapy stands out as a holistic and empirically supported approach. Its focus on both acceptance and change makes it an excellent tool for clients aiming to manage their emotions better and improve their relationships. As your professional guide, integrating DBT into framework can be a transformative addition, benefiting both you and your guide immensely.

I hope you find this introduction to DBT valuable as a resource. The technique’s multifaceted approach offers a powerful way to enhance emotional well-being and interpersonal relationships. With the backing of empirical research and a strong theoretical foundation, DBT stands as a significant asset in the realm of mental health care and health and wellness coaching.


  • Linehan, M. M. (1993). Cognitive-behavioral treatment of borderline personality disorder. Guilford Press.
  • Kliem, S., Kröger, C., & Kosfelder, J. (2010). Dialectical behavior therapy for borderline personality disorder: a meta-analysis using mixed-effects modeling. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 78(6), 936-951.
  • Linehan, M. M., Comtois, K. A., Murray, A. M., Brown, M. Z., Gallop, R. J., Heard, H. L., … & Lindenboim, N. (2006). Two-year randomized controlled trial and follow-up of dialectical behavior therapy vs therapy by experts for suicidal behaviors and borderline personality disorder. Archives of general psychiatry, 63(7), 757-766.