Enhancing Dialectical Behavior Therapy for the Treatment of Bipolar Disorder

Psychiatr Q. 2020 Sep;91(3):629-654. doi: 10.1007/s11126-020-09709-6.


Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a third wave, behavioral therapy that is designed to target emotion dysregulation. The current study investigated whether DBT could be an effective treatment intervention for bipolar disorder and how it could be adapted for this population. Although empirical study of DBT and bipolar disorder is limited, there is evidence to suggest that DBT is a promising treatment for bipolar disorder. In this study, adapted DBT products were created for bipolar disorder, and feedback on the products was elicited from five experts in the field through semi-structured interviews. Interviews were transcribed and coded for analyses. The findings from the interviews were integrated into revised products with the intention to be used in the clinical community. Several experts reported currently using DBT for bipolar disorder treatment. We conclude that a form of DBT using adapted materials could be a promising intervention for the treatment of bipolar disorder, although more research is needed to demonstrate efficacy. Future directions include conducting randomized controlled trials on DBT and bipolar disorder, as well as testing the created product in clinical practice.

Keywords: Bipolar disorder; Bipolar treatment; DBT; Dialectical behavior therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bipolar Disorder / therapy*
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy* / instrumentation
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy* / methods
  • Humans
  • Psychotherapists
  • Qualitative Research