DBT & Philosophy

The history and practice of various therapeutic modalities—in fact, the whole history of therapy itself—is tightly bound up with the history and practice of philosophy. While the focused study of philosophy as such is these days largely confined to universities and other academic contexts, there is much to be gained from the process of identifying and critically examining the philosophical assumptions that lie (sometimes unnoticed!) at the center of our personal and professional lives. This goes for both clients—who can utilize such a process to navigate forward toward growth and desired change—as well as care providers, who can broaden, deepen, and strengthen their skills as helping professionals through this practice of philosophical reflection. 

It is through not just empirical research, but also through philosophical investigation that we arrive at the set of values—including equity and self-determination—that ground commitments to approaches that take LGBTQIA+ affirming and neuroinclusive care to be foundational elements of contemporary practice. Such investigation is also at the heart of our approach to modalities such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy—itself not just a clinical, but also deeply philosophical practice. 


The Philosophical Roots of DBT


In her formative work, Dr. Marsha Linehan—the architect of DBT—drew from both Hegelian philosophy and Buddhist philosophy (among other sources and influences). While Hegel was neither the first nor the only philosopher to discuss dialectics, he is most often credited with our contemporary understanding of the process of dialectical progression: an initial thesis is contrasted with an antithesis, with both being integrated into a synthesis. In terms of a therapeutic practice, we might consider our experience of being challenged by the apparent friction between two seemingly conflicting truths and reflect on how to synthesize both into something more conducive to growth and forward movement. In doing so, we’re not just doing therapy: we’re doing philosophy. 

Additionally, much of DBT is influenced by understandings of mindfulness and meditation practices influenced by Buddhist philosophies. Furthermore, reflections on Buddhist philosophies can help us in productively pondering several further and important questions: What is it that I truly value? In what ways does my current behavior contribute to harm? What are the causes and conditions influencing or leading up to my familiar behaviors? What is this thing that I call “me”? 


Re-centering Philosophy 


One of the pillars of the DBT program at Growth thru Change is an active and intentional re-centering of this philosophical approach, resulting in an interdisciplinary program that integrates clinical expertise with philosophical wisdom and practice. Each of our groups is co-facilitated by a team consisting of one licensed clinician and one trained philosopher, who together guide clients through the practice and application of DBT skills while encouraging clients to remain reflective on topics such as identity, meaning, and value as they move forward to navigate sometimes complex existential issues. 

This isn’t to say that the groups are akin to graduate seminars, or even that they require any prior background or experience with philosophy. Through Socratic methods and guided, collaborative group discussion and reflection, our facilitators provide all relevant background and concepts in plain and accessible language. Individual coaching calls are also available for those who might want to explore these concepts a bit further or deeper, ensuring that each client has the opportunity to pursue the philosophical aspects of our program at their preferred level.  


Learn More About Our DBT Program 


No matter where you are in your journey forward—whether you’re ready to dive in or want to collect more information—we’re here for you. To learn more, check out our Dialectical Behavior Therapy program or contact us!

For updates on our DBT program and other offerings at Growth Thru Change, follow us on Instagram or connect on LinkedIn.

Recent Posts


Exploring the Relationship Between Mindfulness and Dialectical Behavior Therapy

1. Introduction Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based treatment that combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with concepts of mindfulness, acceptance, and validation. This comprehensive guide explores ...
Read More →

DBT and Mindfulness Myths

Mindfulness is a practice with many homes. Whether part of a personal spiritual practice, a fancy corporate retreat, clinical treatment through Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) ...
Read More →

 Envisioning a Future Pride

As another Pride month comes to its close—with profile pictures going back to their default colors and the department stores beginning to take down their ...
Read More →

Ready to Get started?

Schedule your session today


Still Thinking About It?

Don’t worry about it! We understand. It can be a big decision to make. Join our newsletter and stay updated when we publish new self help articles on our blog, as well as when we are running promotions.

Appointment Request