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Dialectical Behavior Therapy vs. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: What's the Difference?

Choosing Between DBT and CBT

Photo by cottonbro studio

Hey, there! Struggling with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues and looking for the right therapy?

Today we are going to compare two popular therapies--Cognitive Behavioral Therapy vs Dialectical Behavior Therapy in an all-out match.

Both are developed to help in overcoming difficult mental situations and improve overall well-being. But which one is ideal for you?

Being your trusted therapist here at The Wise Self, I will walk you through all the basics to help you decide which one will work for you.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

The Essence of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Photo by SHVETS production


CBT is a short-term therapy that focuses on the "here and now" to address the patient's negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

How Does It Work?

CBT sessions are conducted on a weekly basis for a limited period, usually between 12 to 20 sessions.

During each session, the therapist helps you identify negative thoughts and behaviors and focuses on ways to change them. The approach of CBT is to work on one problem of yours at a time and move on to the next one once the first is resolved.

At The Wise Self, our cognitive behavioral therapy specialist would use different techniques--like exposure therapy, cognitive restructuring, relaxation techniques, and problem-solving. All of these will help you identify the underlying negative thinking and help treat it.


The goal of CBT is to create more manageable, healthier thinking patterns without interpreting the past or predicting the future.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Unlocking the Full Potential of DBT Therapy for Emotional Healing

Photo by SHVETS production


DBT is a therapy that was originally designed to treat borderline personality disorder. It is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that focuses not only on negative thoughts like CBT but also includes emotions.

The objective here is to maintain a balance between accepting negative feelings and working on ways to manage them.

It emphasizes both acceptance and change, focusing on mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and emotion regulation.

How Does It Work?

DBT sessions are conducted on a weekly basis for a minimum of 6 months.

During each session, the therapist helps you learn coping skills to deal with intense emotions--stress, anxiety, and anger. It also includes individual therapy sessions, group therapy, and phone coaching.

Our therapist will identify the behavioral patterns that need to be amended and lead you through managing your emotions by building suitable coping mechanisms and self-soothing practices.


The goals of DBT include reducing suicidal behavior and increasing your coping skills--improving your quality of life.

What Should You Choose

When choosing between Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, it's very important to know your primary goals.

CBT may be the ideal solution for you if you are looking for short-term therapy to help with specific issues like depression or anxiety.

Have DBT, on the other hand, if you opt for long-term therapy that focuses on improving coping skills and managing powerful emotions.

Another thing to think about is the level of structure you desire.

CBT may be a better fit for you if you prefer more structure and guidance.

However, if you prefer a more flexible approach and appreciate one-on-one support, then DBT may be the better option.

Still don’t know what to choose? Let’s chat!



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