Psychological research on the efficacy of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy for a variety of disorders is ongoing. This page contains a quick summary of the most recent research.
Effectiveness of dialectic behavioral therapy in routine outpatient care: the Berlin Borderline Study
This German study followed 78 patients with Borderline Personality Disorder over a year of treatment with outpatient DBT. It found that patients significantly improved regarding self-injurious behaviors, number of inpatient hospital stays, and severity of borderline symptoms.
Stiglmayr, C., Stecher-Mohr, J., Wagner, T., Meiβner, J., Spretz, D., Steffens, C., Roepke, S., Fydrich, T., Salbach-Andrae, H., Schulze, J., & Renneberg, B. (2014). Effectiveness of dialectic behavioral therapy in routine outpatient care: the Berlin Borderline Study. Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotion Dysregulation, 1(1), 20. https://doi.org/10.1186/2051-6673-1-20
Standard 12 month dialectical behaviour therapy for adults with borderline personality disorder in a public community mental health setting
This Irish study followed participants with BPD over the course of a year-long DBT program. It found a significant reduction in symptoms and an increase in quality of life during the first 6 months and a slight regress afterward.
Flynn, D., Kells, M., Joyce, M., Corcoran, P., Gillespie, C., Suarez, C., Weihrauch, M., & Cotter, P. (2017). Standard 12 month dialectical behaviour therapy for adults with borderline personality disorder in a public community mental health setting. Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotion Dysregulation, 4(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40479-017-0070-8
Efficacy of Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Adolescents at High Risk for Suicide: A Randomized Clinical Trial
This American study found a significant advantage for DBT compared with individual and group supportive therapy for reducing repeat suicide attempts, nonsuicidal self-injury, and total self-harm after treatment.
McCauley, E., Berk, M. S., Asarnow, J. R., Adrian, M., Cohen, J., Korslund, K., Avina, C., Hughes, J., Harned, M., Gallop, R., & Linehan, M. M. (2018). Efficacy of Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Adolescents at High Risk for Suicide. JAMA Psychiatry, 75(8), 777. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.1109
Dialectical Behavior Therapy Is Effective for the Treatment of Suicidal Behavior: A Meta-Analysis
This paper synthesizes findings from controlled trials that studied the effects of DBT on suicidal ideation and attempts, and self-injurious behaviors. It found that DBT reduced self-directed violence but did not have a significant effect on suicidal ideation, perhaps indicating the therapy’s focus on behavior over thinking.
DeCou, C. R., Comtois, K. A., & Landes, S. J. (2019). Dialectical Behavior Therapy Is Effective for the Treatment of Suicidal Behavior: A Meta-Analysis. Behavior Therapy, 50(1), 60–72. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2018.03.009
Dialectical Behavior Therapy Group Skills Training for Bipolar Disorder
This study tracked 37 individuals with bipolar disorder over 12 weeks in DBT therapy. It found that the participants reported improved well-being and decreased emotion reactivity, potentially indicating the usefulness in DBT for treating bipolar disorder.
Eisner, L., Eddie, D., Harley, R., Jacobo, M., Nierenberg, A. A., & Deckersbach, T. (2017). Dialectical Behavior Therapy Group Skills Training for Bipolar Disorder. Behavior Therapy, 48(4), 557–566. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2016.12.006
On the potential for iatrogenic effects of psychiatric crisis services: The example of dialectical behavior therapy for adult women with borderline personality disorder.
This study attempted to tease out whether repeated use of crisis services is due to individual risk factors or the actual use of crisis services itself (iatrogenic). It found that treatment-year psychiatric ER visits were the sole predictor of the number of follow-up year suicide attempts and that DBT reduced the number of treatment-year ER visits.
Coyle, T. N., Shaver, J. A., & Linehan, M. M. (2018). On the potential for iatrogenic effects of psychiatric crisis services: The example of dialectical behavior therapy for adult women with borderline personality disorder. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 86(2), 116–124. https://doi.org/10.1037/ccp0000275
Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Men With Borderline Personality Disorder and Antisocial Behavior: A Clinical Trial
This study looked at 30 men with BPD and antisocial behavior who underwent a year of DBT. It found a reduction in self-harm, aggression, and criminal offending as well as symptoms of BPD immediately afterward and at the 1 year follow up.
Wetterborg, D., Dehlbom, P., Långström, N., Andersson, G., Fruzzetti, A. E., & Enebrink, P. (2020). Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Men With Borderline Personality Disorder and Antisocial Behavior: A Clinical Trial. Journal of Personality Disorders, 34(1), 22–39. https://doi.org/10.1521/pedi_2018_32_379
Dialectical behavior therapy self‐help for binge‐eating disorder: A randomized controlled study
This study compared the effectiveness of self-help DBT with a self-help control in the treatment of BED. It found that those who completed the treatment (65%) reported significant reductions in binge frequency.
Carter, J. C., Kenny, T. E., Singleton, C., van Wijk, M., & Heath, O. (2019). Dialectical behavior therapy self‐help for binge‐eating disorder: A randomized controlled study. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 53(3), 451–460. https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.23208
Pilot study of a brief dialectical behavior therapy skills group for jail inmates
This study piloted a small DBT group with a small group of male jail inmates. It found a potential benefit of DBT in such settings.
Moore, K. E., Folk, J. B., Boren, E. A., Tangney, J. P., Fischer, S., & Schrader, S. W. (2018). Pilot study of a brief dialectical behavior therapy skills group for jail inmates. Psychological Services, 15(1), 98–108. https://doi.org/10.1037/ser0000105
Pilot Test of a DBT-Based Parenting Intervention for Parents of Youth With Recent Self-Harm
This study developed a DBT-based intervention exclusively for parents of self-harming youth. It found a reduction in caregiver strain and other symptoms in the parents as well as a decrease in youth self-harm.
Berk, M. S., Rathus, J., Kessler, M., Clarke, S., Chick, C., Shen, H., & Llewellyn, T. (2020). Pilot Test of a DBT-Based Parenting Intervention for Parents of Youth With Recent Self-Harm. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice. Published. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cbpra.2020.10.001
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