DBT and Dialectical Thinking: Balancing Opposites as a Way to Promote Healthy Coping

DBT and dialectical thinking

DBT and Dialectical Thinking: Balancing Opposites as a Way to Promote Healthy Coping

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a cognitive-behavioral treatment that was originally developed to treat borderline personality disorder. However, it is now used to treat a variety of mental health conditions, including eating disorders, depression, and anxiety.  Within DBT, there are different modules that focus on key components of effective behavioral strategies for promoting mindfulness, emotional regulation, interpersonal effectiveness and distress tolerance.  


A key component of DBT is dialectical thinking.  Dialectics is a way of thinking that sees things in terms of opposites and contradictions, and dialectical thinking is the process of using this way of thinking to come to a better understanding of things. Dialectical thinking is a way of looking at the world that is based on the idea that everything is in flux, that nothing is ever permanent. In dialectical thinking, opposing ideas are seen as complementary, and it is thought that understanding and accepting these contradictions is a key to understanding and healing challenges in mental health.

Finding Balance and Balancing Opposites

In Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), dialectics is the process of taking two opposing ideas and finding middle ground or balance between those ideas.   It involves looking at things in a different way, seeing the contradictions and tensions in life and learning to accept them.  This can help you to see things in a new light and come up with new solutions to problems, which can prove to be an important factor in the healing process.  


Dialectical thinking can also be used as a tool for self-reflection. We can learn more about ourselves and our relationships with others.  By understanding both sides of an issue, we can get a better understanding of ourselves and our motivations as well as develop new strategies and perspectives for problem solving. This dialectical thinking can be used as a tool for healing, helping us to see both sides of an issue and to find a way to resolve it.  When we think dialectically, we begin to focus on the problematic interactions that may arise in our relationships with others, rather than placing blame on one person or the other.

Examples of Dialectical Thinking

The dialectical thinker is open to new ideas and new ways of looking at things.  Here are a few examples of thoughts that we can adopt as a way to embrace a dialectical way of thinking:


“I can see your point of view even though I do not agree with it.”


“While this may seem hopeless right now, I know that my emotions will change and that it will not be like this forever.”


“This is really difficult for me, and I will persevere and keep trying.


“I can accept that people’s ideas change over time, even if it can be upsetting.”


“Change is an inevitable part of life and I can choose to embrace it instead of reject it to reduce my own suffering.”

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