DBT was developed in the late 1980s by Dr. Marsha Linehan and colleagues when they discovered that cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) alone did not work as well as expected in patients with BPD. Dr. Linehan and her team added techniques and developed a treatment to meet the unique needs of these patients.
DBT incorporates a philosophical process called dialectics. Dialectics is based on the concept that everything is composed of opposites and that change occurs when there is a “dialogue” between opposing forces.
In DBT, a client and therapist work to resolve the apparent contradiction between self-acceptance and change to bring about positive changes in the patient.
Another technique offered by Linehan and her colleagues was validation. Linehan and her team found that when validation was used along with the push for change, clients were more likely to cooperate and less likely to suffer distress at the idea of change.
In practice, the therapist validates that a client’s actions “make sense” within the context of their personal experiences without necessarily agreeing that they are the best approach to solving a problem
DBT accepts and works with the fact that some people, due to environment and/or biology, react abnormally to emotional stimulation. Their levels of arousal rise very quickly and peak at a higher level than the average individual, because they do not have a method of coping with these intense and often sudden surges of emotion.