DBT Pros and Cons: A Comprehensive Guide

By Jared Levenson - Reviewed on May 30, 2023
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It can be hard to find your way around the world of mental health treatments, especially if you feel trapped by problems like anxiety, sadness, or trauma.

As experts in online products and services for mental health, we know that you want to find the best answer for your specific needs.

In this piece, we’ll look at the pros and cons of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), a powerful way to improve mental health.

By reading on, you’ll learn more about how DBT could change your life, which will help you decide if it’s the right choice for you. Learn as much as you can and take charge of your mental health today.

What is DBT?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based1 form of cognitive behavioral therapy that has been used to treat a variety of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, personality disorders, and other mental health issues.

  • DBT combines strategies such as mindfulness, acceptance, and emotion regulation to help individuals manage their emotions and regulate their behavior. This can improve interpersonal relationships, decision-making skills, overall mood, and well-being, and reduce the risk of self-harm or suicidal ideation.
  • DBT also incorporates practical techniques such as distress tolerance and interpersonal effectiveness skills to help individuals cope with extreme emotional suffering.
  • In addition to individual sessions with a therapist, DBT also utilizes group therapy sessions which provide an opportunity for people to learn from each other’s experiences in a supportive environment.

The unique approach of combining individual and group sessions makes it a highly effective form of treatment for those dealing with mental health issues.

Is DBT effective?

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a type of psychotherapy that is effective in treating a wide range of mental health conditions, according to WebMD.

These conditions include depression, substance dependence, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and borderline personality disorder (BPD).

  • DBT is most effective when used to treat BPD because it helps individuals better manage their emotions and behaviors.
  • It also helps people develop healthier relationships with others by teaching them how to communicate more effectively.
  • Additionally, DBT can help reduce the risk of self-harm or suicide in those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

However, there are some potential drawbacks or risks associated with DBT treatment, as noted above.

For example, it can be difficult for some people to commit to the intensive nature of the therapy and may require a great deal of time and effort from both the therapist and the patient. Additionally, it may not be suitable for everyone depending on their individual needs.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is not recommended for those who are not willing to commit to the treatment process. DBT requires a significant amount of time and effort, and patients must be willing to actively participate in the therapy sessions.

  1. Additionally, DBT may not be suitable for individuals with severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, as it may be difficult for them to understand and apply the skills taught in DBT.
  2. Furthermore, those who are taking certain medications or using substances should consult their doctor before starting DBT, as there may be potential conflicts between the two.
  3. Lastly, children and adolescents under 18 years old may not benefit from DBT due to their lack of maturity and cognitive development.

Overall, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is an effective form of treatment for many mental health issues but it is important to consider any potential risks or limitations associated with it before beginning the program.

It is best to speak with a mental health professional about whether this type of therapy is appropriate for you or your loved one’s individual needs.

Pros of DBT

One of the major benefits of DBT is that it is an evidence-based form of therapy. This means that it has been tested and proven to be effective in treating mental health issues (see research below)

  1. Additionally, DBT goes beyond just treating mental illness; it also helps individuals improve their overall quality of life by reducing anxiety, depression, trauma symptoms, and other emotional distress.
  2. Another advantage of DBT is its focus on building skills that can be used in everyday life. It teaches individuals how to regulate their emotions, build healthy relationships with others, manage stress more effectively, and make better decisions when faced with difficult situations. These skills are essential for leading a healthy lifestyle and can help reduce the risk of relapse or further mental health issues down the road.
  3. Finally, DBT encourages individuals to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions and behavior while also learning how to accept themselves as they are. This self-acceptance can help foster self-esteem and confidence which can lead to improved mental health outcomes over time.
  4. DBT is readily available through many insurance providers like Talkspace. Talkspace can connect you to a DBT therapist (with a medication plan) that is covered by your insurance, convenient to your schedule, and evidence-based.

Cons of DBT

While there are many advantages and disadvantages to using DBT as a form of therapy, there are also some potential drawbacks that should be considered before beginning treatment.

  • One potential downside is that it can be expensive since it typically requires weekly sessions with a therapist or counselor who specializes in this type of therapy.
  • Additionally, since DBT focuses heavily on building skills for managing emotions and behaviors, it may require more commitment from clients than other forms of therapy.
  • Another potential disadvantage is that some people may find the structure and rules associated with DBT too restrictive or overwhelming at times. Since this type of therapy relies heavily on structure and consistency to be effective, some individuals may struggle with feeling limited by these boundaries or feel like they don’t have enough freedom within the framework provided by their therapist or counselor.

Find DBT Providers Through Zocdoc

For those seeking a DBT practitioner, Zocdoc provides a convenient way to find the right provider. We bought, tested, and documented our experience using Zocdoc, and now we believe:

  • Users can search for practitioners based on location, insurance coverage, review score, and availability.
  • Additionally, Zocdoc’s user review system offers insight into each practitioner, helping users make informed decisions.
  • Booking an appointment is simple with Zocdoc’s platform, saving time for those seeking mental health support.
  • Zocdoc’s features allow users to filter search results to identify DBT practitioners specializing in their specific needs.
  • Zocdoc’s extensive database enables users to compare qualifications, experience, and reviews of multiple therapists, allowing them to make the best choice for their mental health journey.

By utilizing Zocdoc’s robust platform, individuals can take control of their mental well-being and confidently progress toward healing and personal growth.

How Does DBT Differ From Other Forms Of Therapy?

  1. When compared to other forms of therapy such as CBT, one major difference between them is that DBT emphasizes acceptance rather than change when dealing with difficult emotions or behaviors.
  2. While CBT focuses on helping individuals identify patterns in their thoughts or behaviors so they can be changed over time; DBT takes a different approach by teaching clients how to accept themselves as they are while still working towards making positive changes in their lives.
  3. Additionally, while CBT focuses mainly on changing thought patterns; DBT also looks at behavior patterns.

What are DBT distress tolerance skills?

DBT Skills: Distress Tolerance & Crisis Survival

DBT distress tolerance skills are an important part of this therapy and can help individuals better regulate their emotions.

  • One of the most common DBT distress tolerance skills is “improve the moment” which involves finding healthy activities or distractions to take your mind off of whatever is causing you distress. This could include engaging in physical activity, listening to music, reading a book, or talking to a friend.
  • Another skill is “self-soothing” which involves calming yourself down through activities such as deep breathing exercises, yoga, or meditation.
  • Finally, “radical acceptance” is another DBT distress tolerance skill that encourages individuals to accept their current situation without judgment and move forward from there.

These are just a few examples of the many DBT distress tolerance skills available for those struggling with emotional regulation.

With practice and guidance from a mental health professional, these skills can be used to help manage stress and improve overall well-being.

If you are interested in learning more about DBT or seeking professional help, there are many resources available online and through local mental health organizations.

How long does DBT typically last?

DBT typically lasts between 6-12 months, depending on the individual’s needs. Patients usually attend sessions once or twice a week for an hour each time.

List of DBT Skills

DBT focuses on four key areas (https://dbtselfhelp.com/dbt-skills-list/):

  1. Mindfulness – Mindfulness is about being present at the moment and observing your thoughts without judgment or attachment. Practicing mindfulness can help you become aware of your emotions and reactions so that you can respond more constructively.
  2. Distress tolerance – Distress tolerance involves developing skills to cope with difficult situations without making them worse. This includes learning how to accept reality as it is instead of trying to change it or avoid it altogether.
  3. Emotion regulation – Emotion regulation involves recognizing and understanding your emotions so that you can control them rather than letting them control you.
  4. Interpersonal effectiveness – Finally, interpersonal effectiveness involves developing communication skills so that you can express yourself effectively while maintaining healthy relationships with others.

These skills can be used in many different scenarios such as when dealing with difficult conversations or managing strong emotions like anger or sadness. Practicing these skills consistently over time will lead to improved emotional regulation and distress tolerance which can have a positive impact on overall wellbeing.

List of DBT Mental Health Resources

These resources offer valuable information and guidance for those seeking help, therapy, or self-improvement through DBT.

DBT Flashcards

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) flashcards are a great way to learn and review the skills taught in DBT.

  • These cards provide a visual representation of the skills, making them easier to remember and apply.
  • DBT flashcards can help individuals gain insight into their emotions, behaviors, and relationships.
  • They can also be used as a supplement to traditional therapy methods, providing an additional layer of support for those who are looking to make lasting changes in their lives.
  • The flashcards cover topics such as mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and more.
  • Each card contains information on how to practice the skill as well as examples of how it can be applied in everyday life.
  • The cards also provide helpful reminders about how to stay mindful and present in the moment.

DBT flashcards are an effective tool for those who want to learn more about DBT or just need a refresher on the skills they have already learned. They provide an easy way to review material while allowing individuals to take control of their learning process.

By using these cards regularly, individuals can gain greater insight into their emotions and behaviors while also developing healthier coping strategies for managing distress.

Best DBT Certification for 33 Continuing Education Credits (CE)

The DBT & Mindfulness Certification Training program offers mental health professionals an opportunity to enhance their skill set and knowledge in applying Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and mindfulness techniques.

This dual-certification course, which includes up to 33.25 Continuing Education (CE) hours, has been taken by over 11,000 professionals, reflecting its relevance and value in the field of mental health.

  • Throughout this training, participants will learn various strategies to help clients better manage their triggered physiological responses, promoting effective self-regulation.
  • The course also covers the use of diary cards, mood-tracking apps, and SUDs scales to monitor clients’ progress.
  • Additionally, participants will be introduced to Exposure Response Prevention techniques to encourage clients’ growth and improvement.
  • The program aims to equip mental health professionals with the necessary tools to support clients in making healthier decisions and improving their overall well-being.

By learning from the experiences and insights shared in this course, professionals can make informed choices when incorporating DBT and mindfulness techniques into their practice.

DBT Pros and Cons Conclusion:

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) offers many potential benefits for those struggling with mental health issues such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Substance Abuse Disorders (SUDs), Eating Disorders (EDs), and other mood disorders like depression or anxiety.

However; there are also some potential drawbacks associated with this type of therapy such as costliness or feeling restricted by its structure which should be taken into consideration before beginning treatment.

Ultimately; if you think you could benefit from this type of therapy, it’s important to discuss your DBT options with your doctor so you can make an informed decision about what’s best for you.

You should also know DBT is the recommended treatment, and there are high-quality, affordable DBT therapy groups available online. Our favorite is Grouport Therapy. In our Grouport Therapy review, we noted the pros and cons of DBT, the costs of DBT, and DBT intensive care.

Our team invites you to share your thoughts in the comments section below. Let us know which mental health software products, apps, or courses that Online Mental Health Reviews should explore and review next.


  1. Chapman AL. Dialectical behavior therapy: current indications and unique elements. Psychiatry (Edgmont). 2006 Sep;3(9):62-8. PMID: 20975829; PMCID: PMC2963469.
  2. Peprah K, Argáez C. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy for Adults with Mental Illness: A Review of Clinical Effectiveness and Guidelines [Internet]. Ottawa (ON): Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health; 2017 Oct 20. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK525629/

If You’re In An Emergency

In times of crisis, waiting for an online therapy session might not be the safest option. If you require immediate assistance, please dial 911. This includes situations where you feel guilty or someone else may be at risk of harm. If you’re experiencing thoughts of self-harm, you can reach out to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling 988, which offers support 24/7.

Additionally, you can contact the National Helpline of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at 800-662-HELP (4357). This free, confidential helpline operates 24/7, 365 days a year, providing information and assistance in finding treatment for those struggling with mental health or substance abuse disorders.

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