Comparing and Contrasting CBT and DBT: Are they similar?

Last Update on February 15, 2021 : Published on February 14, 2021
Comparison of CBT and DBT

People often get confused between the two Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). Well, to keep it straight, both therapies play a different and important role in treating mental health disorders. CBT and DBT are part of psychotherapy which is also named talk therapy. Through these therapies and sessions, people learn how to face challenges in a growth-stimulating environment with safe skills to manage those challenges easily.

Both of these methods are commonly used methods of psychotherapy for treating mental health disorders. CBT and DBT might have similar names but they are different and are used for treating different mental health issues. In this blog, let’s learn the difference between CBT and DBT.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) focuses on changing the negative thoughts and feelings by replacing them with positive vibes and thoughts. The only aim of CBT is to change the relationship between negative feelings and thoughts. Additionally, CBT also aims on establishing new positive thinking patterns with new helpful behaviors and thoughts. CBT is commonly used to treat mental health disorders like substance use, anxiety, depression, PTSD, ADHD, and more.

CBT is commonly used for identifying challenging issues, uncovering the causes, and establishing new coping strategies along with tools and mechanisms to get over the past easily and live a new positive life.

To read more about CBT, click Mini-Guide: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is known as a modified alternative for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). DBT was specifically created for treating Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). However, most therapists use DBT for suicidal actions and thoughts. With time and inventions, therapists have also discovered the treatment of various mental health disorders through DBT.

DBT is based on practicing mindfulness, increasing tolerance of distress, growing relationships among family members, partners, and friends, and strengthening emotional regulation skills. People who work with therapists are able to overcome negative thinking patterns, accepting, and learning how to react positively. The balance taught by a therapist is known to be effective for changing negative thoughts and beliefs.

To read more about DBT, click Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) – How it works

Differences between CBT and DBT

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
Emphasis: Focuses on redirecting negative thoughts Emphasis: Focuses on the relationship between change and acceptance and balance
Time: Short interval Time: More extended sessions
Setting: One-in-one setting along with homework Setting: One-in-one and group settings
Aim: Focuses on changing the thought pattern Aim: Focuses on changing the thought pattern

 1. Goals

As per research, CBT is a goal-oriented therapy system as it aims on helping clients by identifying their negative behaviors and thoughts. After the identification, the therapy provides tools and strategies for adjusting the problems.

Meanwhile, DBT also has goals but they are not as direct and firm as CBT. The main goal of DBT is to help clients in a way, they start accepting themselves, start learning to manage their emotions, and regulating destructive behavior. DBT is more based on social and emotional aspects. Meanwhile, CBT is more related to the client’s behaviors and thoughts.

2. Philosophies

The main difference between CBT and DBT is the way they approach their clients. DBT focuses on the interaction of clients with others. DBT includes mindfulness which apparently helps clients to accept themselves and the environment.

Meanwhile, CBT focuses more on logic and the identification of negative thinking patterns. Therapists who practice CBT keep on encouraging clients to use critical thinking for developing healthy ways of behaving and thinking.

3. Types of sessions

Therapy sessions of CBT are short when compared with DBT. CBT lasts for a few weeks meanwhile, DBT is a month-long procedure. The difference between CBT and DBT is that DBT includes group therapies meanwhile CBT is mostly in-person therapy. In CBT, talking with peers is not important and DBT works better via group therapy.

Similarities between CBT and DBT:

DBT is a formed branch of CBT. It is merely a kind of CBT with incorporated mindfulness algorithms. Both therapies focus on talking with a therapist about challenges and negative thinking. It’s all about talking about your feelings and answering the therapist’s questions.

DBT and CBT also have the same ideas about behaviors, feelings, and thoughts. CBT or DBT, both help the client to understand the thoughts and what influences their negative actions. The other similarity between CBT and DBT is that they both are used for treating behavioral disorders.

I hope this blog helps you to learn the difference between CBT and DBT. Comment down your queries related to CBT and DBT. For more such content, follow Calm Sage on all social media platforms.

Thanks for reading.

About The Author

Aayushi Kapoor
Aayushi Kapoor

Aayushi is a Content Creator at Calm Sage. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Food Technology and a Master's Degree in Clinical Nutrition. Her constant interest in the improvement of mental health, nutrition, and overall wellness embarked upon her career as a “full-time educational writer.” She likes to make an asynchronous connection with her readers. Her mantra for living life is "What you seek is seeking you".

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