The MHS Journals

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DBT Therapy vs CBT Therapy

Dec 16, 2022

A woman looking at peace with the sun in her hairPsychotherapy involves a variety of approaches taken by licensed practitioners who want to provide the best quality of care possible for their clients. This is why both DBT therapy and CBT therapy are commonly used techniques. Today, we will review each of these therapies and how they can assist with the mental health of patients.

What is CBT? 

CBT stands for Cognitive Behavior Therapy, and it refers to a technique licensed psychologists use to help their patients understand the specific challenges they are facing at any given time. Its goal is to help the patient produce happier and more productive thoughts about their life and what they can do to create better outcomes moving forward. The goal is to turn these negative thoughts around in their head. 

What is DBT? 

DBT stands for Dialectical Behavior Therapy. This is a therapy type designed for people who experience emotions very intensely. Many people with borderline personality disorder receive this type of therapy, but it can also be used for others. 

How to Choose Between CBT and DBT Therapy? 

Clinical psychologists are the only people who can determine which kind of therapy is appropriate for their clients. The professional must look at the scope of the patient’s symptoms to decide how they ought to approach that person about what kind of therapy they might be interested in getting. 

For most patients, there is a general preference to use CBT therapy to start. It is a therapy type commonly provided to people who come into therapy with various concerns. 

Diagnoses Better Suited for CBT Therapy

Patients with a variety of diagnoses might benefit from CBT therapy. Some of the issues that are best treated with this type of therapy include the following: 

  • Eating disorders 
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Substance abuse disorder

These issues have shown improvement in some patients when they are subjected to CBT therapy. Thus, many believe it is important to look at CBT therapy as a potential choice for those with these concerns. 

Depression and Anxiety 

One of the reasons why CBT therapy is the choice for someone suffering from depression and anxiety is that these are issues that are directly related to one’s mental state of being. Both depression and anxiety can manifest as physical symptoms as well, but they ultimately begin as mental disorders. CBT therapy might help provide patients with the tools they require to pull themselves closer to recovery. 


Those with substance abuse issues will tell you that the suffering that they go through is as much about their mental state of mind as it is about the physical addiction that they have to a substance. CBT therapy can help an addict reorient their thoughts in a more constructive manner. 

Obsessive Compulsive 

Those who suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) will often receive CBT therapy as part of their treatment. OCD is a disorder of the mind that causes sufferers to get transfixed on certain elements of life that ultimately shouldn’t matter as much to them as they seemingly do. Thus, it makes sense to undergo CBT therapy to help with this issue. 


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a complex diagnosis that we are still working to understand. It is experienced by people who have gone through something traumatic in their life and experience psychological and physical symptoms from their experience. CBT therapy may help people in these circumstances better manage the thoughts that are troubling them the most. 

Diagnoses Better Suited for DBT 

Certain diagnoses are better suited to be treated by DBT. These include some of the following. 

Borderline Personality Disorder

As briefly mentioned, those who have borderline personality disorder will often receive DBT therapy as part of their treatment. They experience emotions much more intensely than others, meaning DBT therapy might be exactly what is needed to help people with this specific issue get the assistance they require. 

Suicidal Ideation 

Someone with suicidal ideation clearly experiences emotions intensely and requires more in-depth therapy than other patients might. Thus, DBT therapy may be the way to go for people going through something like this. 


Those who have reached a stage where they are engaging in self-harm are an immediate danger to themselves and need to receive help as soon as possible. DBT therapy is the kind of intense therapy that they need to help with these issues. 

Philosophies of DBT vs. CBT

These two therapy types have different philosophies for how they approach helping patients. CBT primarily relies on using rational thinking to bring the patient back to a place where they can work through some of their issues. 

DBT leans more heavily on mindfulness practices. It helps the patient learn about specific techniques they can use to overcome the pain and suffering they are dealing with. 

Treatment Methods of DBT

Most patients who receive DBT therapy will do so in a group setting. They generally have a DBT coach or leader who guides them through the various stages of the process. They may also meet with a DBT individual therapist over the phone. Over time, patients who respond well to DBT therapy may move to CBT therapy after some time. 

Treatment Methods of CBT 

This method focuses on how our thoughts impact the reality around us. It seeks to harness the abilities we all possess internally to help ourselves receive the treatment and care we need to do better in our lives and see real results. CBT is commonly used for people experiencing a wide range of different mental disorders and illnesses. It is a therapy type that works for many and is open to anyone who wants to try it. 

If you’re looking for a therapist specializing in CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) or DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy), look no further than Mental Health Systems.

Take the first step to a better life! Call us today at 952-835-2002.