What is the ‘D’ in DBT?

What is the ‘D’ in DBT?

The letter “D” in DBT stands for the word dialectics. In DBT we define dialectics as the synthesis or integration of two opposites with the goal of finding the truth somewhere in between. Dialectical thinking refers to “the ability to view issues from multiple perspectives and to arrive at the most economical and reasonable reconciliation of seemingly contradictory information and postures.

In the most basic sense, dialectics is the balance between opposites. In contrast, taking a non-dialectical view means staying stuck in opposing perspectives or failing to acknowledge other perspectives.

The idea of taking a dialectical approach or using dialectical thinking is the foundation that DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) was built on. In DBT, we teach clients dialectical strategies to help them get “unstuck” when it comes to extreme thinking and behaving.

Dialectical thinking is key when it comes to creating a life that is really worth living.

We all experience extremes in thinking from time to time. The problem is that without mindful awareness, “all or nothing thinking” can become a permanent negative core belief. Negative core beliefs can create a filter for our thoughts and experiences, impacting our emotional health, relationships and the world around us.

When we’re not able to recognize a perspective different from our own, we interact with others in extreme and hurtful ways.

In DBT, we learn skills to help us think in dialectical ways so we can find the truth or the syntheses between extremes.

We learn how to mindfully take a “both/and” approach to life and how we interact with others. By taking “a dialectical” world view, we can agree to disagree, accept that we all live in the world in different ways, and still that we can still love each other. Discover more about DBT on our DBT web page contact Kym Hansen (Traverse City) at 231.947.2255 or Katherine DeVries (Grand Rapids) at 616.222.3720 to schedule a new outpatient appointment call 866.852.4001.


Kym Hansen-Duell, LMSWKym Hansen-Duell, LMSW, ACSW is a licensed social worker at the Pine Rest Traverse City Clinic. Kym has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Central Michigan University and a Master of Social Work from Grand Valley State University. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and the Academy of Certified Social Workers. Kym is available to speak at community events on topics such as ADHD, depression, parenting, family issues and workplace stress.

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