There’s a common misconception that therapy is only for serious problems, and most people don’t need therapy. Despite this, 21.6% of adults received mental health treatment as of 2021. Therapy is a useful tool that many people find helpful. However, for your therapy to be most effective, you must choose the right type. Two of the most common forms of therapy available are CBT and DBT. Learn about the different features of CBT versus DBT.

What Is CBT?

CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and it first emerged in the 1960s but has since become a well-established and widely used form of psychotherapy. Therapists use CBD to treat various mental health symptoms and conditions, such as:

The purpose of CBT is to help people change unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. Experts believe negative thoughts and behaviors can worsen mental health issues. A person can reinforce a negative belief by repeatedly having a thought or doing a behavior. If the treatment is successful, patients can live healthier, more fulfilling lives free from the negativity bringing them down.

How CBT Works

Patients undergoing CBT treatment can finish their program in a few months’ worth of treatments. A CBT specialist will help the patient identify, address, and modify problematic thoughts and behaviors during this time.

What to Expect in Treatment

A CBT specialist will help patients identify their negative beliefs and thoughts. Then, they’ll help the patient discover why they have this belief. Finally, the therapist will help the patient replace this belief with something more constructive and beneficial.

Techniques Used in CBT

CBT is often modified to fit the unique needs of individual patients. For instance, the exact techniques used to treat anxiety may differ from those used to treat depression. However, you will likely find many of the same techniques in all CBT treatments. Here are some examples of techniques you may encounter:


Self-monitoring simply tracks symptoms, behaviors, and experiences over time. Patients often do this through writing a diary or journal. The patient then shares the information they documented with their therapist.

Goal Setting

What does the patient hope to get out of their CBT sessions? How can they accomplish these fears? Goal setting can help the patient determine their wants and how to get them.

Practice New Skills

The patient will need to practice using their new thoughts and behaviors. They can do this at home and in therapy sessions. Practicing new ideas and behaviors makes them normal and turns them into a habit.

What Is DBT?

DBT, or Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, grew out of CBT. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy was initially used to treat Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and has proven effective with people who struggle with intense emotions, relationships, and impulsivity. DBT is now used to treat other mental health conditions and can give people the helpful coping skills they need.

How DBT Works

DBT focuses on one particular type of behavior: coping strategies. People use coping strategies to try to make themselves feel better. Unfortunately, coping strategies can sometimes be unhealthy behaviors like overeating, abusing alcohol, etc.

Replace Coping Mechanisms

DBT specialists will help their patients replace unhelpful coping mechanisms with healthier ones. Utilizing healthy strategies helps patients better deal with struggles and triggers.

Techniques Used in DBT

There are a few different modules used in DBT. Specialists select techniques based on what they believe will work best for the patient’s specific issues. Examples of DBT techniques include:

Distress Tolerance

Upsetting situations happen to everyone. However, people with mental health issues often turn to less healthy behaviors to deal with stress. Specialists help patients turn these unhealthy reactions into healthy behaviors.


Mindfulness helps people focus on the present moment and become grounded. By doing this, patients can more easily ignore their automatic negative thoughts. Avoiding the negative thoughts allows the patient to bypass the impacts of those thoughts.

Effective Relationships

DBT also helps people with relationships. Specialists teach patients how to communicate well, set boundaries, resolve conflicts, and more.

CBT Versus DBT

There are similarities between CBT versus DBT, but there are differences. CBT changes thoughts and behaviors, while DBT changes coping mechanisms. DBT is often used to treat BPD, although it is used to treat other mental health conditions. CBT is used for a variety of mental health conditions.

Move Forward

Knowing the features of CBT versus DBT should be the first step in getting the proper treatment for you or your loved one. If you’re ready to start therapy, contact us. We can help you overcome your mental health issues and help you feel at peace and happy in your life.