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CBT vs. DBT: The Similarities & Differences

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) are two effective therapeutic approaches. Depending on the challenges or symptoms an individual faces, these two therapy modalities can help them out.

CBT is all about structure and helping a person replace their unhelpful behavior and thoughts with helpful ones. DBT helps people regulate their emotions, live in the moment, have healthy relationships, and cope with crises.

Read on to learn more about the differences and similarities in these treatments. Visit KB Psychotherapy for DBT and CBT therapists in Wisconsin.

How Are CBT and DBT Similar?

DBT was developed from and is a form of CBT. Both these approaches overlap because they’re common psychotherapists focusing on how a person’s feelings, thoughts, and behaviors are linked.

These talk therapy approaches help patients with self-awareness, self-destructive behaviors, and developing healthier habits. Both treatments also depend on the client’s relationship with their therapist. CBT and DBT also help with depression and anxiety symptoms.

Since DBT is a subset of CBT, it also involves cognitive restructuring. It builds upon CBT and helps address distorted or harmful thinking patterns. In both these treatments, a patient would have to do a lot of therapeutic assignments and homework in between the sessions.

What Makes CBT Different From DBT?

While there exist similarities, the differences between CBT and DBT are significant. CBT mainly revolves around helping individuals identify, change, and replace problematic thinking patterns and behaviors.

DBT helps individuals regulate extreme emotions to change certain behaviors and improve their relationships. Let’s take a look at five more contrasts that CBT and DBT therapists in Wisconsin focus on.

Time Commitment

DBT is more comprehensive. It involves more treatments compared to CBT, which only involves weekly talk therapy sessions. For comprehensive DBT, there is individual therapy, various skills training, and training/coaching calls for the patient in between sessions.


CBT heavily focuses on the cognitive or thinking component. It’s all about replacing unhelpful thoughts with helpful ones. At the same time, DBT addresses thinking distortion, changing thoughts, and validating a person’s emotions. This is because emotions also have a physical effect which is a component of DBT.

Interpersonal Relationships

While a CBT therapist can help the patients address a particular relationship, DBT deliberately focuses on making a person’s interpersonal relationships healthier. It heavily concentrates on emotional situations in a person’s life, which involve their family, friends, or romantic partners. It teaches individuals how they can control their intense emotional responses.


CBT therapists teach patients the link between their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Then, patients learn about linking their thoughts and emotions with positive behaviors to learn skills that will help them cope. DBT therapists teach skills through different modules and coaching calls.

Psychotherapy in Lake Geneva

CBT and DBT are effective treatments for various disorders, including PTSD, Borderline Personality Disorder, and depression. If you’re looking for depression, anxiety, and trauma counseling in WI, visit us at KB Psychotherapy.

We’re a psychotherapy center in WI, and we have trained CBT and DBT therapists on board. For more information, you can check out our Facebook page.

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