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Understanding Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Is there really a difference between CBT and DBT?

Both Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) come from the same family of psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is one of the best treatment methods available to treat a wide range of emotional and physical health conditions, like depression and anxiety. It is a therapeutic process that focuses on helping people heal and teaching them constructive ways to deal with problems or issues in their life.

But what’s the difference between CBT and DBT? Below is a chart that maps out some of the main differences between the two therapies.



Uses reason and rationale to identify thoughts and perceptions Uses deep analysis of thoughts and perceptions to understand underlying issues
The way we think and act, affects the way we feel Our past experiences affect the way we feel
Best for clients who need positive encouragement to be in control of their own thoughts Best for clients who feel emotions with a high level of intensity and are prone to reacting in an extreme manner towards certain situations
Replaces negative thoughts with new positive thoughts Works to understand current thoughts, validating your experience and feelings first

CBT is one of the most common types of therapy. CBT focuses on using reasoning and rationale to identify and evaluate your thoughts and perceptions about your life, while DBT focuses on understanding the underlying issues that are causing these negative emotions.

CBT suggests that the way we think and act affects the way we feel. Sounds pretty logical, right? DBT takes this idea and dives deeper into WHY we think and act in certain ways, creating a better understanding of our thoughts and feelings.

A coach using CBT may encourage their clients to talk about their problems and help them to frame their thoughts differently. Many clients feel like negative thoughts are always in control – “I am a failure. I can’t do anything right. No one will like me if they see who I really am.” – CBT can help by using logic and reason to flip the script and be in control of your thoughts, instead of allowing your thoughts to control you.

A coach using DBT may ask their clients more probing questions about their current thoughts and feelings to uncover the why and to get to the root of the problem. “Why do you feel like a failure? What is holding you back from being your true self?”  They may then suggest habits to start working toward changing these negative thoughts and feelings from the core. DBT focuses more on the immediate acceptance of the current situation and teaches clients what skills to use in the moment to help them cope and self soothe in a healthier way.

The essence of Dialectical Behavior Therapy is that it is a framework of skills to help you change behaviors that are not serving you. Despite its original deployment in the field of mental health, the essence of DBT is to help individuals develop and use effective skills to build a life of worth in all areas: personal, social, academic, professional, and spiritual. At SoleLife, we are honored to bring DBT, for the first time ever, to the coaching world. We know that you and your clients will find it life changing, transformational and instrumental in your personal development.

“One of the foundational philosophies of DBT is that we are all doing the best we can AND must also do better.” -Nichole Lowe

How can you use DBT?

These skills are valuable for every person and in every situation.

DBT for Everybody

DBT can help you with your career, family life, self improvement journey, and fitness goals by building on your skills of mental toughness, stress management, and team cohesion, as well as increasing your focus and the time you spend in the zone.

DBT for Health Coaches

DBT can help Health Coaches with clients who emotionally eat by teaching them how to manage their emotions and urges gracefully, live in the present moment, learn from their feelings, and cope with distress skilfully.

DBT for Business Coaches

DBT skills can be powerful life skills for Business Coaches. These skills help your clients address and manage emotions as a leader. These skills can give you the edge you need to take your leadership to the next level and are ideal in helping business leaders be a more present manager and a more supportive colleague.

DBT for Life Coaches

DBT skills can help Life Coaches assist their clients in life organization by creating a work life balance, teaching stress management and through the skills of being one- mindful and making decision from their Wise Mind.

These scientifically supported skills will alter your life, and the life of your clients, in a dramatic and measurable way. The possibility for positive growth and change are limitless. We are transformative coaches going much deeper than traditional coaching. We look forward to going on this journey, in search of your best self, together.

Learn more about DBT for your clients! Join Nichole Lowe for the upcoming webinar, “Empower Your Clients with Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Training

Nichole Lowe is a board certified Health Coach, Educator and Presenter. She is the Founder and CEO of SOLELIFE™. SOLELIFE™ is an online training platform that offers proven advanced training for coaches and health practitioners in Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) to improve its customers’ client results and grow their referral business. It’s an all-in-one solution for professional coaches where they can learn new skills, connect with peers, and gain valuable industry knowledge in a first-ever fully social eLearning platform.

Article reprinted with permission from Nichole Lowe.

MFN Contributing Author