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DBT, developed in the late 1980s and early 1990s by Marsha M. Linehan, a U.S. psychologist and professor emerita at Washington University (see;, is a treatment originally developed for individuals at severe suicidal risk and later applied to individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder and other severe psychiatric and psychological conditions.
Emotional dysregulation, understood as difficulty in managing one's emotions and making strategic and adaptive use of them, is the basis of the conceptual and operational model of DBT. The intervention model adopts a dialectical approach to "a life worth living," an approach of seeking balance between two basic principles: the first refers to acceptance of reality as it is and involves an empathetic and compassionate attitude toward suffering and the person asking for help; the second refers to the principle of problem solving and works in the direction of producing change, in the same committed and radical way that inspires the principle of acceptance.
Empirical research, replicated and applied in more than 50 countries around the world, has amply demonstrated the effectiveness of DBT in the treatment of borderline personality disorder, and many complex psychiatric and psychological conditions, attesting to DBT as one of the leading and most widely used evidence-based treatments
But DBT is not just that; the force of its innovativeness has profoundly changed established ideas and practices in psychiatry and clinical psychology, proving to be an opportunity for cultural change in the way of understanding the existential and human conditions of the most suffering and seemingly least reachable patients.
La DBT è stata inserita dal settimanale TIME nel volume 100 New Scientific Discoveries, un’edizione speciale dedicata a presentare 100 aree di ricerca in 10 discipline, tra cui la Psicologia, che hanno avuto il maggiore impatto in ambito scientifico. Allen Frances nella prefazione al volume autobiografico di Marsha Linehan “Una vita degna di essere vissuta” (trad. it. Cortina, 2021) ne celebra lo spirito con queste parole “Nell’ultimo mezzo secolo ci sono stati solo due innovatori clinici davvero influenti nel campo della salute mentale: uno è Aaron “Tim” Beck, che ha sviluppato la terapia cognitiva negli anni Sessanta. L’altra è Marsha.” Nel gennaio 2024 Marsha Linehan ha ricevuto premio/riconoscimento per avere sviluppato la DBT in occasione della 48° edizione del WA Statel Legacy organizzato dall’Università di Washington.

Marsha M. Linehan was born in 1943 and is emerita professor of psychology at the University of Washington in Seattle (USA) where she directed the Behavioral Research and Therapy Clinic (BRTC). Starting from behavioral psychotherapy, she has been developing the Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) over the years, in which various components, including mindfulness, play a crucial role, come together organically. Recall, among the many awards she has received, that in 1999 she was recognized for her distinctive role in the field of suicide prevention and intervention with the award of the Louis Israel Dublin award for Lifetime Achievement; in 2016 she received the Career/Lifetime Achievement award from the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.
In summary, Marsha Linehan has been able, as has been amply documented in both textbooks and scientific papers published in international journals, to create a new way of treating severe psychological emotional dysregulation by integrating clinical and science.