WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CBT & DBT?

People often ask: what is the difference between Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). CBT was created by Dr. Aaron T. Beck in the 1960s. DBT is a cognitive therapy, created by Marsha Linehan based on CBT, that adds some critical components to the existing therapeutic methods.

There are a variety of answers to the the question of "what makes DBT different from CBT" out there on the web, covering this topic from an academic perspective--but we wanted to find out what real people thought about it. We asked over 2,500 members of the Learn DBT Group on Facebook (a free group we run) what they thought, and here's what some of them had to say...

DBT is More Effective for Highly Sensitive People.

DBT is simply a modified form of CBT that uses traditional cognitive-behavioral techniques, but also implements other skills like mindfulness, acceptance, and tolerating distress. DBT has been found to be considerably more effective in treating highly sensitive people, trauma survivors etc. DBT is always done in groups vs CBT can be done in individual therapy. DBT is about skill building so the groups are about learning the DBT skills and applying them to everyday life, CBT is often more processing.
- Myria A.

DBT Changes Behaviors First; Cognition & Mood Follow

My experience of CBT was using cognitive skills; changing thoughts to change behaviors. In DBT you actually learn skills to change behaviors FIRST and then changes in cognition and mood follow as a result of the behavior change.
- Kelly A.

DBT Adds a Lot to CTB

CBT combined with dialectics, validation,  mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, interpersonal effectiveness and walking the middle path equals DBT! Oversimplified I know. But it’s the simplest explanation.
- Ashley M.

CBT Focuses on Thoughts, DBT Adds the Body

On a very basic level I conceptualize CBT as being more for our head (thoughts), whereas DBT does that, as well as incorporating body with mindfulness (breathing, tapping, grounding).
- Trevor J.

DBT Adds a Focus on Radical Acceptance

CBT is limited and not always easily generalized because it’s just about thought and acceptance in not a core value. DBT teaches deeper truths that bring in the body and soul. Starting with the first assumption that we are doing the best we can with the skills we currently have, or in other words radical acceptance of who and where we are. That is the only path for lasting and long term change. CBT just moves thoughts but never address acceptance, in my opinion it focuses on too much change.
- Milton M.

DBT Adds a Focus on Radical Acceptance

CBT is limited and not always easily generalized because it’s just about thought and acceptance in not a core value. DBT teaches deeper truths that bring in the body and soul. Starting with the first assumption that we are doing the best we can with the skills we currently have, or in other words radical acceptance of who and where we are. That is the only path for lasting and long term change. CBT just moves thoughts but never address acceptance, in my opinion it focuses on too much change.
- Milton M.

DBT Has More Components

One thing to note is that true DBT programs include 4 components: skills group, individual therapy, phone coaching, and a consultation group (for the team members). If a DBT program doesn’t include all of these parts, it’s just DBT-informed (rather than being true DBT). CBT does not require all of these components in order to adhere to its intended model.
- Christina C.

DBT Will be More Intensive

DBT is a Cognitive Behavior Therapy--it is considered one of the “third wave” of CBTs. I find DBT balances both acceptance and change. Generally DBT will be more intensive and require more sessions.
- Tea H.

DBT Works on Dangerous Behaviors First

The target in DBT is different from CBT, however, a big part of the therapy have a lot of skills that came from CBT. In DBT it's more important to work first on dangerous behaviours that can attempt against life and qualty of life, than other problems as anxiety or depression.
- Daniela G.

Both DBT & CBT Focus on Changing Behavior

They are similar in that they both focus on a behavioral change. In CBT, Behavior is assumed to be developed and maintained by both external events and internal processes or cognitions.
- Kristie O.

>