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By: Donna Deadman

If you have struggled with depression, you may be wondering what type of therapy is right for you-Cognitive Behavior Therapy or Dialectical Behavior Therapy. These approaches are both used for behavior talk therapies but it’s worth finding out the difference and knowing that the two are not interchangeable.

CBT –Based on the idea that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are all connected.

  • Problems stem from how someone thinks or sees the world
  • These issues are sometimes learned behaviors
  • Someone can learn ways to cope with new strategies and methods.
CBT involves therapy that helps someone recognize and understand how their thoughts and habits contribute to the problems that they are facing. Basically, CBT helps identify and change unhelpful thinking patterns and behaviors. This change in unhelpful behaviors allows a person the ability to confront the things that make them anxious or depressed. By recognizing those stressors, you can work with the therapist to problem-solve ways to change those behaviors so that your mood can be improved.
CBT is goal oriented that uses weekly directed sessions to help the client examine their thoughts and how they translate into behavior.DBT helps people learn how to manage intense emotions. It also helps to gain control over their emotions, and build a life worth living.
It involves 4 key areas:
  • Mindfulness –learning to stay focused on the present moment while accepting emotions and surroundings and pausing before acting on urges
  • Distress Tolerance –Skills for getting through difficult moments without making them worse
  • Emotion Regulation –Developing strategies for coping and managing emotions.
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness-How a client can communicate with those around him in a positive, assertive way.

This therapy involves learning and practicing skills like asking for help, being assertive, making meaning, riding out unhelpful urges, acceptance, and more. This can include anything from breathing exercises to repetitive tasks and emotion regulation exercises like naming, internalizing, or speaking about those emotions or problem solving and acting opposite to unhelpful urges.

In short, both have been found to be effective treatments but there are significant differences.

CBT involves weekly sessions that focus on specific issues like anxiety, phobias, eating disorders, or depression. Sessions include a combination of evaluating unhelpful thinking patterns and changing negative ineffective behaviors.

DBT is more intensive and comprehensive. It involves weekly individual sessions as well as skills group and phone coaching. Mindfulness and Buddhist Zen approaches are incorporated. DBT was designed to treat multiple issues at the same time, while an emphasis on learning how to take control of your emotions.

The best way to determine which one is best for you is to speak to a mental health professional or therapist. Every person and situation is different. Approaching one’s health and well-being is a project that requires a customized approach that would be developed between the client and the therapist.