What is Dialectical Behaviour Therapy?

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is an effective treatment approach for helping people to manage overwhelming emotions. It is a skill-based approach that has four key components.

  1. Emotion regulation
  2. Distress tolerance
  3. Mindfulness
  4. Interpersonal effectiveness
Client speaking to psychologist whilst receiving DBT therapy in Melbourne

DBT’s four key components

Emotion regulation

This component of DBT helps you to identify and observe your emotions. You will learn to slow down your emotional experiences so that you can understand more about what you are feeling and make healthier choices about how to respond to your thoughts and emotions.

Distress tolerance

In DBT distress tolerance skills help you to “ride out” strong or uncomfortable emotions. These techniques temporarily help you to stop thinking about your emotions, giving you time and space to reflect on how you will cope (because it can be difficult to think rationally when we are caught up in strong emotions like anger, shame or sadness).


Mindfulness is a central to all DBT skills. Through mindfulness practice you can begin to become aware of your emotions without being bowled over by them. Mindfulness helps you to stay grounded in the present moment, rather than focusing on painful or distressing experiences from the past or worries about the future.

Interpersonal effectiveness

This component of DBT will help you to navigate your personal relationships more effectively, while also making sure you take care of yourself. You will learn tools and techniques for expressing what you believe and what you need, develop clear boundaries in relationships and increase your confidence in negotiating with others.

We can work with clients using DBT therapy principles.

Traditional DBT is delivered via a team of therapists and involves intensive, long-term group therapy and individual sessions. Unfortunately due to limitations around what we can offer in a private psychology clinic, our psychologists do not deliver traditional DBT in Melbourne. Instead we work with clients using DBT principles.