How Long Does Dialectical Behavior Therapy Take?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a highly effective form of therapy used to treat a range of mental disorders. DBT works towards helping people regulate their emotions and learn coping skills. It’s an intense form of therapy and not one that can be done half-heartedly. Due to it being so intense, many people wonder how long it takes.

Duration of DBT

It should be said that there is no one set timeline for DBT. DBT was originally created to treat borderline personality disorder but has since been adopted and altered to treat a whole range of mental disorders such as substance abuse, self-harm, eating disorders, PTSD, and others. This means that the exact length of therapy may change depending on what disorder DBT is aiming to treat and how severe it is.

Average Length

While there isn’t a set duration for DBT, there is a rough outline that is followed. A full course of dialectical behavior therapy takes around 6 months to complete. There are four main modules in DBT, mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.

These modules are also the stages used in DBT. Patients can expect to spend roughly 6 weeks on each module. Three of the modules, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance are worked on for a full six weeks. There are then 2 weeks of mindfulness practiced between each of those modules.


DBT is an intense form of therapy, and it requires a good chunk of time to work on all of the skills necessary. But don’t think you’ll be spending one hour a week with just your therapist. There are multiple components to this form of therapy. DBT programs include a combination of one-on-one sessions with a therapist, as well as group sessions and even homework where patients practice implementing the skills they learned in the real world.

This means that patients in DBT are required to commit a few hours a week to therapy. While this is more than other forms, this extended commitment is part of what makes it work.


How Long Does Dialectical Behavior Therapy Take? | Delray Center

DBT is a commitment and a time commitment. Patients can expect to commit a few hours every week for around 6 months. But it’s all worth it. Psychiatrists regularly get people that retake DBT because they find it so beneficial. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you want to learn more about DBT or if you have any questions.