Not all DBT is created equal

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its effectiveness in treating a wide range of mental health conditions, including borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, PTSD and more. However, not all clinics claiming to offer DBT provide the same level of comprehensive care, and this can have a significant impact on treatment outcomes.

What is Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)?

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that was originally developed to treat borderline personality disorder (BPD). DBT focuses on teaching individuals new skills to manage their emotions, improve their interpersonal relationships, and develop mindfulness techniques to help them cope with stress and difficult situations.

Comprehensive DBT vs. Partial DBT (informed, as we call it)

Comprehensive DBT is a treatment model that includes 4 basic components: individual therapy, group therapy, skills training, and phone coaching. In contrast, partial DBT typically only includes individual therapy and/or skills training. While partial DBT can still be effective in treating certain conditions, it may not be as effective as comprehensive DBT in treating more complex conditions such as BPD.

Why Comprehensive DBT is more effective

Higher Treatment Success Rates

Comprehensive DBT has been shown to be more effective in treating a wider range of mental health conditions compared to partial DBT. Studies have shown that individuals who receive comprehensive DBT experience significant improvements in their symptoms, and are more likely to experience lasting improvement in their mental health.


A meta-analysis of 25 studies on the effectiveness of DBT found that comprehensive DBT was significantly more effective than treatment as usual, and partial DBT, in reducing self-harm behaviors and improving overall mental health functioning (Linehan et al., 2015).

A More Holistic Approach

Comprehensive DBT takes a more holistic approach to treatment by addressing multiple areas of a person’s life, including their relationships, emotions, and thoughts. By addressing these different areas, comprehensive DBT helps individuals develop more effective coping mechanisms and strategies to manage their symptoms in the long term.

Phone Coaching

Phone coaching is a unique feature of comprehensive DBT that allows individuals to receive support and guidance outside of therapy sessions. This can be particularly helpful for individuals who may struggle with their symptoms outside of therapy, or who need additional support in crisis situations.

Group skills class

Group skills is an essential component of comprehensive DBT. It allows individuals to practice and develop their skills in a supportive environment. Group skills also provides a sense of community and connection, which can be invaluable in the recovery process.


In fact, a study comparing individual DBT and comprehensive DBT found that individuals who received comprehensive DBT had significantly greater improvements in mental health functioning and quality of life compared to those who received individual DBT only (Hepp et al., 2019).

Skilled Therapists

Comprehensive DBT requires skilled and trained therapists who have expertise in this treatment modality. A clinic offering comprehensive DBT will have therapists who are specifically trained in DBT, ensuring that individuals receive the highest quality of care. Furthermore, a therapist offering proper DBT will be on a consultation teamif your therapist is not part of a dbt consultation team, they are not doing DBT!


A clinic offering comprehensive DBT is not the same as those who claim to offer DBT but are not doing it in a comprehensive format. Comprehensive DBT has been shown to be more effective in treating a wider range of mental health conditions, takes a more holistic approach to treatment, includes phone coaching and group therapy, and requires skilled therapists who are specifically trained in DBT. If you or someone you know is considering DBT as a treatment option, it is important to choose a clinic that offers comprehensive DBT to ensure the best possible treatment outcomes.


Luckily, Grey Zone Psychology is the only clinic in Quebec to be certified by the Linehan institute, and has the only 2 licenced clinicians in Quebec- ensuring excellence in our delivery of DBT.



Linehan, M. M., Korslund, K. E., Harned, M. S., Gallop, R. J., Lungu, A., Neacsiu, A. D., … & Murray-Gregory, A. M. (2015). Dialectical behavior therapy for high suicide risk in individuals with borderline personality disorder: a randomized clinical trial and component analysis. JAMA psychiatry, 72(5), 475-482.


Hepp, U., Rufer, M., Schramm, E., Weiland, M., Schlegel, S., & Bohus, M. (2019). Effectiveness of partial versus comprehensive dialectical behavior therapy in women with borderline personality disorder: A randomized controlled trial. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 88(3), 158-169.


Neacsiu, A. D., Rizvi, S. L., & Linehan, M. M. (2014). Dialectical behavior therapy skills use as a mediator and outcome of treatment for borderline personality disorder. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 59, 64-71.

Share this post

Read More

The Power of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy for Emotion Regulation in Kids and Adults

In today’s fast-paced world, managing our emotions has become an increasingly important skill. Whether we are adults juggling multiple responsibilities or children navigating the challenges of growing up, learning effective strategies for emotion regulation is vital for our well-being. Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) offers an

Quality DBT Care: 5 Reasons For Seeking a DBT Certified Program

As someone who is a mental health and wellness advocate as well as someone who provides services in this field, I believe that it is important to prioritize evidence-based treatments that are proven to be effective. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is one such treatment that

4 Things for Parents to Consider in the Wake of Tragedy

This week, a 51-year-old public bus driver drove his bus into a nursery school, killing two young children and injuring six others in Laval, Quebec. Apparently, he led a discrete life and did not have any priors. His history of mental illness is yet unknown.