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A young woman struggling with psychosis considers how to manage her symptoms using DBT.

Everything You Need to Know About DBT for Psychosis

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) has been shown to help those with psychosis manage their symptoms and relationships. Learn more about the benefits of DBT for psychosis here.


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How DBT treats psychosis

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) for psychosis involves a combination of mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and emotion regulation skills to help people manage their psychotic symptoms and improve their overall quality of life. By promoting self-awareness and teaching healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with difficult emotions, DBT can help people develop a greater sense of control and stability in their lives. It also provides tools for improving interpersonal relationships and communication, which can be particularly helpful for those struggling with psychosis and its impact on their daily interactions. Overall, DBT offers a comprehensive approach to addressing the challenges that come with experiencing psychosis and can be an effective form of support for people seeking to better manage their psychotic symptoms and live fulfilling lives.

Skills taught in DBT for psychosis 

Skills taught in DBT for psychosis are as follows:


Mindfulness is one of the core DBT skills. It involves learning to practice being present in the moment and observing thoughts and feelings without judgment. This skill helps people with psychosis to ground themselves and reduce the impact of intrusive thoughts or hallucinations.

Distress tolerance

Distress tolerance skills are designed to help people with psychosis learn how to tolerate and survive crises without making them worse. This includes skills such as distraction, self-soothing, and improving the moment to decrease the intensity of distressing symptoms.

Emotion regulation

Emotion regulation skills help people manage intense emotions that may be exacerbating their psychosis. This skill involves identifying and labeling emotions, understanding the function of emotions, and finding ways to decrease vulnerability to overwhelming feelings.

Interpersonal effectiveness

Interpersonal effectiveness skills offer strategies for improving relationships and communication with others. For people with psychosis, this may include learning how to effectively express their needs and boundaries, as well as navigating interactions with supportive others and mental health professionals.

Reality testing

Reality testing helps individuals challenge and test the accuracy of their thoughts, beliefs, and perceptions. This skill assists people with psychosis in discerning between what is real and what may be influenced by their symptoms.


Self-validation is an important aspect of DBT for psychosis. It encourages individuals to acknowledge and validate their own experiences and emotions. This skill is important for people with psychosis who may struggle with self-doubt and gaslighting from others, allowing them to validate their experiences without relying on external validation.


Problem-solving teaches people with psychosis how to break down complex problems, generate potential solutions, and evaluate the effectiveness of different strategies. This skill can help individuals address the practical challenges that may arise from their symptoms and improve their overall functioning.

Benefits of DBT for psychosis 

Research has shown that people with psychosis who undergo DBT experience long-term benefits. DBT helps people develop skills to manage their emotions, improve relationships, and cope with stress. As a result, people who participate in DBT often see a reduction in symptoms and a decreased need for hospitalization. Additionally, they may experience improved quality of life and overall functioning in their daily lives.

How quickly does DBT work for psychosis? 

People who undergo DBT for psychosis often experience rapid improvements in their symptoms. Research has shown that DBT can be effective in reducing distress and enhancing coping skills for people experiencing psychosis. The DBT skills and strategies taught in DBT can help people better manage their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life.

How is medication used to treat psychosis?

Medication is often used to treat psychosis by helping to manage the symptoms of the condition. Antipsychotic medications are commonly prescribed to help regulate the neurotransmitters in the brain and reduce hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking. These medications can be used in combination with other drugs, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications, to address different aspects of the person’s symptoms. It’s important for the person to work closely with a healthcare provider to find the most effective medication and dosage for their individual needs.

Other types of treatments for psychosis 

In addition to DBT and medication, some other types of psychotherapy treatments for psychosis are as follows: 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

This therapy helps people identify and challenge their negative thought patterns and beliefs, which can contribute to psychosis. Through CBT, individuals can learn coping skills and strategies to manage their symptoms and improve their overall well-being.

Family therapy

Family therapy involves working with a person’s support system to improve communication, understanding, and support. This type of therapy can help address family dynamics and relationship issues that may contribute to or exacerbate a person’s experience of psychosis.

Art therapy

Art therapy offers a creative outlet for people to explore and express their feelings and experiences related to psychosis. Through the process of creating art, individuals can gain insight and self-awareness, as well as develop coping skills and emotional regulation.

Psychosocial rehabilitation

This therapy focuses on helping people with psychosis regain and maintain their independence and daily functioning. It can involve vocational training, social skills development, and support with housing and community integration. By addressing practical and social aspects of life, individuals can enhance their quality of life and overall functioning.

Intensive outpatient program for psychosis 

When a person is struggling with psychosis, a common treatment option is an intensive outpatient program (IOP). An IOP is used when people are not at immediate risk of harm to themselves or others but still require intensive treatment for severe mental illness. During IOP, people participate in therapy and support groups to help manage symptoms and improve their overall well-being. This type of program allows people to receive the necessary care while still being able to maintain their daily responsibilities and activities.

Treatment for psychosis at Charlie Health 

If a young person in your life is struggling with psychosis, Charlie Health is here to help. Charlie Health offers a virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) that provides more than once-weekly mental health treatment for young people and families dealing with complex mental health conditions, including psychosis. Our expert clinicians incorporate dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) into individual therapy, family therapy, and group sessions. With this kind of holistic psychosis treatment, managing psychosis is possible. Fill out the form below or give us a call to start psychosis treatment today. 

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