DBT & Positive Psychology

In a recent article, the authors highlight the relationship between Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and the field of Positive Psychology.

Positive psychology focuses on “the scientific study of positive human functioning and flourishing on multiple levels that include the biological, personal, relational, institutional, cultural, and global dimensions of life” (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000).

DBT research has traditionally emphasized client self-efficacy and symptom reduction, while focusing less on client strengths that help someone develop a “life worth living.” Research in the field of positive psychology has traditionally focused less on persons with clinical diagnoses, which include most DBT clients.

The authors propose incorporating more Positive Psychology constructs into DBT practice and research. Their ideas include:

  1. Facilitating awareness of client strengths

  2. Highlighting positive characteristics of DBT clients during treatment, offering them ways to define themselves beyond their diagnosis

  3. Highlighting positive characteristics of DBT clinicians during supervision, to reduce rates of professional burnout

Tanner Oliver