Transdiagnostic Applications of DBT for Adolescents and Adults

Am J Psychother. 2015;69(2):111-28. doi: 10.1176/appi.psychotherapy.2015.69.2.111.


Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is an empirically supported treatment that was originally developed for chronically suicidal adults. Since the publication of the original treatment manual, DBT has been reconceptualized as a treatment that is broadly applicable for individuals who have difficulties regulating emotion. As such, the treatment can be applied transdiagnostically. Based on the flexibility and adaptability of the treatment, several adaptations have been made to the original protocol. Considerable empirical evidence now supports the use of DBT adapted for eating disorders, substance use disorders, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Moreover, developmentally appropriate adaptations have made the treatment applicable to youth samples. The current paper is geared toward practitioners and describes the various ways in which DBT has been modified for use with various populations and age ranges.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / diagnosis
  • Affective Symptoms / etiology
  • Affective Symptoms / therapy
  • Behavior Control* / methods
  • Behavior Control* / psychology
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / epidemiology
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / therapy*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Comorbidity
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Quality of Life
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / diagnosis
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / etiology
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / prevention & control*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy*