Radically Open DBT

A Revolutionary Approach to Mental Health

Mental health is a topic of significant concern in contemporary society, and its challenges have prompted healthcare professionals to explore innovative avenues for treatment. One such innovative approach is Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy (RODBT), a form of therapy gaining traction for its effectiveness in addressing specific psychological disorders. Born from the parent therapy form Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), RODBT presents itself as a novel avenue for addressing chronic over-control issues. While conventional DBT focuses on emotional regulation for highly reactive individuals, RODBT seeks to assist those who struggle with emotional expression and openness.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll delve into the fundamentals of RODBT, its application in mental health treatment, and its effectiveness. The aim is to provide a well-rounded understanding of this form of therapy, emphasizing its potential for various treatments and the scientific evidence supporting its efficacy.

What is Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy (RODBT)?

Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy (RODBT) is an evidence-based form of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) designed to address issues related to chronic emotional and behavioral over-control. Dr. Thomas R. Lynch, a psychologist and professor, developed this therapeutic model. It serves to assist people with conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anorexia nervosa, chronic depression, and some personality disorders (Lynch, 2018).

The core of RODBT lies in its radical openness concept. Unlike other therapies that focus primarily on emotional regulation or suppression, RODBT seeks to foster openness, flexibility, and social connectedness. It operates on the idea that emotional well-being is achievable through a balanced approach to emotional control.

Key Concepts

  1. Emotional Over-Control: Central to RODBT is the idea that emotional over-control can lead to psychological distress. Such over-control often manifests as perfectionism, rigid behavior, or extreme risk aversion.
  2. Social Signaling: RODBT places considerable emphasis on social interaction and the importance of social signaling for effective interpersonal communication. This aspect is pivotal for people with emotional over-control issues who often struggle with social cues.
  3. Mindfulness and Openness: RODBT integrates mindfulness practices to help individuals recognize their emotional states and thought patterns, thus facilitating radical openness.
  4. Behavioral Activation: Unlike conventional DBT, which focuses on emotional regulation, RODBT incorporates behavioral changes to encourage more open, adaptive behaviors.

How Does RODBT Address Mental Health Issues?

Overcoming Emotional Over-Control

People with emotional over-control issues often experience social isolation, poor interpersonal functioning, and a limited range of emotional expression. RODBT aims to alleviate these issues by focusing on three core principles:

  1. Openness: Encourages individuals to be open to new experiences and to be willing to make mistakes, thereby facilitating learning and growth.
  2. Flexibility: Helps individuals adapt more effectively to changing circumstances rather than rigidly sticking to established patterns or rules.
  3. Social Connectedness: Enhances social interactions by improving the ability to understand and respond to social signals.

Fostering Social Skills

RODBT engages the individual in social skills training, which involves role-playing, practicing social signals, and direct coaching to improve social interactions. This is especially beneficial for conditions like autism spectrum disorders, where social cues can be particularly challenging.

Therapeutic Relationship

One of the unique features of RODBT is the importance it places on the therapeutic relationship. This form of therapy emphasizes a collaborative relationship between the therapist and the client, where both parties are considered equally accountable for the treatment’s success.

Effectiveness of RODBT

Scientific Evidence

A growing body of research supports the efficacy of RODBT. In a randomized controlled trial involving individuals with refractory depression, RODBT demonstrated significant improvement in depressive symptoms when compared to treatment as usual (Lynch et al., 2015). Another study highlighted the positive effects of RODBT on anorexia nervosa, showing a marked reduction in anorexic behaviors and an improvement in emotional well-being (Chen et al., 2015).

Long-Term Benefits

RODBT not only shows promising short-term benefits but also potential for long-lasting change. Its focus on behavioral activation and social skills equips individuals with the tools to manage emotional over-control in the long term, making them more adaptable and socially competent.


While RODBT is gaining empirical support, it’s essential to note that the treatment is not a one-size-fits-all approach. There are limitations to its application, and it may not be effective for all types of emotional and psychological issues.


RODBT offers a refreshing perspective on emotional over-control, moving away from the typical focus on emotional regulation and suppression. Its emphasis on openness, flexibility, and social interaction positions it as a promising avenue for various mental health issues. However, more research is necessary to fully understand the breadth of its applicability and long-term efficacy.


  1. Lynch, T. R. (2018). Radically open dialectical behavior therapy: Theory and practice for treating disorders of overcontrol. New Harbinger Publications.
  2. Lynch, T. R., Hempel, R. J., & Dunkley, C. (2015). Radically open-dialectical behavior therapy for adult anorexia nervosa: Feasibility and outcomes from an inpatient program. BMC Psychiatry, 15(1), 293.
  3. Chen, E. Y., Segal, K., Weissman, J., Zeffiro, T. A., Gallop, R., Linehan, M. M., … & Lynch, T. R. (2015). Adapting dialectical behavior therapy for outpatient adult anorexia nervosa—A pilot study. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 48(1), 123-132.

Thank you for delving into this comprehensive look at Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy. I hope this article has been insightful and sheds light on the promising potential of this innovative treatment approach in the mental health landscape.