Menu Close


Girl and therapist discuss cbt vs dbt

Teens affected by mental health issues can benefit from various treatment options. While some of these options are medication-based, psychotherapy is also a main recovery resource. One primary therapy option now in widespread use is cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT. Effective recovery programs may also include dialectical behavior therapy or DBT. Cognitive-behavioral therapy programs and DBT programs are closely related in some respects. However, they also differ in important ways. Knowledge of their differences can help you make effective choices when seeking treatment for your teenager.

What Is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?

Exactly what is CBT? This therapy was developed to help teens and adults affected by a number of mental health issues. It focuses on your teenager’s typical ways of:

  • Thinking about themselves and various aspects of their lives
  • Responding to daily life in emotional terms
  • Using their thoughts and emotions as a basis for their behaviors

Habits in each of these areas can either damage or support your teen’s mental health. The goal of CBT is to help them abandon unhelpful habits. It then gives them the tools to replace those habits with others that promote well-being.

What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

We can now turn to the question of what is DBT. This therapy started as an offshoot of CBT. Since then, it has developed some unique features of its own. The central feature of the therapy is its use of two opposite but mutually supporting methods.

The first of these methods is helping teens accept their current mental health situation. Mindfulness practices are key to supporting this goal. Teens in DBT also learn how to increase their tolerance of upsetting or distressing emotional states.

Therapists then use your teen’s acceptance efforts as a basis for change. Specific areas of change include:

  • Improving the capacity to regulate strong emotions
  • Learning how to interact in effective ways that don’t promote conflict

Together, well-developed acceptance and change skills can provide major mental health benefits.

What’s the Difference – CBT vs. DBT

What is CBT in relation to DBT? One important difference is the scope of the two therapies. The term CBT applies to a wide range of specific therapy options. Each of these options supports mental health recovery in its own way.

What is DBT in relation to CBT? Dialectical behavior therapy programs can be viewed as close relatives of CBT programs. In fact, DBT’s methods have their roots in a cognitive-behavioral approach. However, compared to CBT, the scope of DBT is much narrower.

There are also treatment-related reasons for using CBT vs. DBT. For example, CBT is well-known for its effectiveness in cases of depression. It can also help your teen recover from other illnesses such as PTSD and anxiety disorders. In contrast, DBT was specifically created to help people with borderline personality disorder. Still, it can also be used to treat several other kinds of mental health issues. In addition, both CBT in general and DBT, in particular, support the recovery of teens also affected by substance problems.

Learn More About CBT vs. DBT at Imagine Fort Collins

Have more questions about what is cognitive-behavioral therapy or what is dialectical behavior therapy? Talk to the experts at Imagine Fort Collins. We’ll provide a more detailed breakdown of the differences between the two therapies. We’ll also help you determine which option best fits your teen’s current situation.

In addition, you can turn to Imagine Fort Collins for high-quality CBT and DBT services. We offer both options as part of our comprehensive partial hospitalizations programs for teens. For more information on including either therapy in your teenager’s treatment plan, call us today at 888.291.2309. You can also reach us through our online message form.