6. The ABC's of DBT – the theoretical perspective

  1. Beth S. Brodsky PhD Associate Clinical Professor of Medical Psychology1 and
  2. Barbara Stanley PhD Professor of Clinical Psychology2

Published Online: 6 MAY 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118556603.ch6

The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Primer: How DBT Can Inform Clinical Practice

The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Primer: How DBT Can Inform Clinical Practice

How to Cite

Brodsky, B. S. and Stanley, B. (2013) The ABC's of DBT – the theoretical perspective, in The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Primer: How DBT Can Inform Clinical Practice, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118556603.ch6

Author Information

  1. 1

    Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Research Scientist New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY, USA

  2. 2

    Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Research Scientist New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 6 MAY 2013
  2. Published Print: 15 JUL 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781119968931

Online ISBN: 9781118556603

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Keywords:

  • dialectics;
  • behavioral therapy;
  • conditioning;
  • social learning theory;
  • validation;
  • mindfulness

Summary

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) was developed specifically for individuals that have difficulty remaining and engaging in treatments informed by other therapeutic approaches. In this chapter, we describe how dialectic theory provides the foundation for the DBT therapeutic stance and interventions. DBT uses strategies that are designed to help with treatment engagement. Validation and acceptance techniques are major vehicles for aiding in this process. At the same time, the treatment maintains a steady eye on the need for change and it is made clear from the outset that “acceptance only” is not sufficient. Thus, there is an ongoing and continual focus on balancing change and acceptance. This stance is reflected in one of the tenets of DBT that is often shared with patients, which is, “You are doing the best that you can but you have to do better.” DBT therapists have this tenet at the forefront of their minds as they work with patients. This balance between validation and change reflects the core dialectical philosophy of DBT, which encourages a synthesis of Zen contemplative practice with the learning principles of behavioral science.