DBT VS ACT for depression: Which is more effective

You are in the right place if you are keen on getting the right knowledge and information as far as DBT vs ACT are concerned. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) are two different approaches when it comes to managing and treating depression. Both are unique in their own ways and therefore there is a need for some detailed information and knowledge gathering so that we are able to find out the right answer to the question as to how acceptance and commitment therapy for anxiety could impact patients.

What Is Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT)

When we talk about acceptance and commitment therapy for depression and other mental disorders, we are referring to a unique method of treatment. ACT could help in making people accept and embrace their feelings and thoughts instead of fighting them and feeling guilty that they have such thoughts and feelings. It may look a bit confusing and difficult to understand at first. However, if this form of approach is offered by the right persons with the right experience, quality and skill set it could bring in good results. However, it may require combining this approach with MBT or Mindfulness-Based Therapy. The combination could offer an effective treatment from the clinical perspective.

It could help the patients to understand and accept the fact that running away from problems only creates more problems. It increases the distance when it comes to offering a solution for the problem. Hence, the main objective of this approach is to understand that the best way to get over a problem is by facing it squarely and then finding out ways to overcome it. There are enough research findings and live examples to prove that ACT, either alone or in combination with other approaches could help in various conditions. These include solutions for those who are suffering from depression, anxiety, OCD, substance abuse, or addictions of various types.

There are a few things unique about this form of therapy. If you do your research, you will be able to come across many sources of information and this also could be some proven and time-tested acceptance and commitment therapy quotes. You also could make use of the internet and mobile technology because this technology has enabled the launch and use of various types of acceptance and commitment therapy app solutions.

ACT, is versatile and popular because it is capable of developing psychological flexibility. It also is a form of behavioral therapy. It combines the two important attributes of self-acceptance with development of mindfulness skills. As a person becomes apt at accepting his or her thoughts and feelings, it has been found that the person also becomes more committed and this certainly is a big takeaway as far as this approach for treating depression, anxiety, substance abuse and other such problems are concerned.

It teaches you to face a problem head-on instead of trying to brush it under the carpet. When you try to hide your problem, it leads to increased stress. Instead, ACT teaches the patients the benefits associated with actions and when this is done over a period of time, it impacts the subconscious mind of the persons concerned. They are able to use such experience to accept challenges and embrace it with a positive frame of mind instead of being negative about them.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Books

There are many books on ACT and if you look around you will be able to shortlist at least a dozen of them. Each of the books while dealing with the subject matter of ACT use different approaches and methods as far as treatment and management of various mental and emotional manifestations are concerned.

One such book is Acceptance & Commitment Therapy. The book has been authored by Steven C. Hayes, Kirk D. Strosahi, and Kelly G. Wilson. The book is popular and sells quite well. This is perhaps it has been able to provide a complete and comprehensive statement as far as ACT or Acceptance & Commitment Therapy is concerned. It tries and drives home the point that ACT happens because of psychological rigidity and this leads to a number of clinical problems. The authors have perhaps managed to come out with some easy approaches that could improve psychological flexibility. It detects and targets the six main reasons. They are defusion, attention, acceptance, values, self-awareness, and committed action. The book is made exciting and invigorating through some engaging therapist and patient dialogues and these interactions are interspersed through the book. The book also has many therapeutic exercises that could be quite useful and informative to the patients and their relatives and family members.

What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?

Let us spend a few minutes getting to know more about DBT or Dialectical Behavior Therapy. We need to have a clearer understanding of the word Dialectical if we are to understand the various aspects of DBT including dialectical behavior therapy trainings and also dialectical behavior therapy for anxiety and other such problems. When we talk about the word dialectic we are referring to a synthesis of ways by which it is possible to bring in a synthesis between opposites. It is useful both to the therapists and the clients and aids in bridging the gap and bringing them both closer from the extreme positions that they might be in.

B in DBT is about behavioral aspects of the individuals or clients. This is also important because to follow DBT there is a need for having a behavioral approach as far as both clients and the therapists are concerned. The therapists during DBT treatment make an honest and fair assessment of the situation. Based on the assessment they target certain behavioral patterns that are necessary and important for achieving the required goals of the clients or patients as they are also referred to. Behavior is vital because it could help in solving various problems associated with the clients.

On the whole, it would be pertinent to understand here that when we talk about DBT, we refer to therapy that is based on evidence. It would not be wrong to mention here that almost all dialectical behavior therapy programs are based on certain assumptions and theories. It applies to those therapies that are done physically in the presence of the therapists or even if it is done with the use of a specific dialectical behavior therapy app.

These assumptions are important because it helps the DBT therapists to have a look at the clients and offer treatments in the best possible manner after having details about everything that is important for such treatments.

Further, when therapists use dialectical behavior therapy for depression and other related problems, they focus on the following important things:

  • Mindfulness
  • Regulation of emotions
  • Better approaches to tolerate distress
  • Effective interpersonal management
  • Chain analysis
  • Ways to identify and tackle borderline personality disorder
  • Handling and treatment depression
  • Treating complicated stress disorders that often come to light post-trauma situations

Dialectical Behavior Therapy Books

If you want to learn more about Dialectical Behavior Therapy or even if you wish to have the right example of dialectical behavior therapy there is a need to go through some good books on DBT and the related things that are useful to it.

There are many such books in the market and we will look at one specific book and try to find out what it offers to its readers and other stakeholders who may have a personal interest when it comes to understanding the various aspects of DBT.

The book Depressed and Anxious is considered to be an extremely useful workbook that may be useful for overcoming anxiety and depression which are so common with many clients because of various reasons. The book or the worksheet that many would like to call it has been written by Thomas Marra. The author is PhD in behavioral science. The book throws some new and interesting insight into depression and anxiety. It has been found that 60% of people who suffer from depression are also subject to various degrees of anxiety. This leads to a big loss of energy and could often lead to unexplained fatigue and lack of initiative. This could lead to a situation where there is a push and pull between depression and anxiety, therapists often find it difficult to identify the main cause.

The book is famous for various exercises, worksheets, and step by step techniques that help in identifying the inner conflicts that could have led to tension and anxiety-related symptoms. It could provide relief to these clients and help them lead a relatively better life.

Main Differences Between Acceptance & Commitment Therapy & Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Now that we have a reasonably good understanding about ACT and DBT, it would be interesting to try to identify the main differences between the two. Both these approaches are unique and have their own benefits and advantages but they also have some crucial differences. Let us have a look at some of the major differences between both of them.

When we talk about DBT and ACT many consider these two to be sister/brother approaches and technologies. They are part of the third-wave as far as cognitive behavior therapies are concerned. Both have the same things to offer when it comes to giving emphasis to mindfulness, acceptance, and also towards effectiveness of action. However, when it comes to theory, there are reasons to believe that there are quite a few things that are different between ACT and DBT.

ACT is believed to be close to modern day behavior analytic theory that is closer to cognition and language. This is also known as RFT or Relational Frame Theory. In fact ACT is supposed to have originated earlier when compared to DBT. It could have had its origin sometime in 1985-86. However, there were some therapists who believed that ACT required a stronger theoretical foundation. This consumed about 15 years towards research and dozens of studies had to be completed.

However, when it comes to looking at ACT and DBT from the evidence based, there are many reasons to believe that DBT is a much better option. It comes with much stronger evidence. The replication is much more pronounced though it could be in some limited areas where it has been tested. It has undergone quite a bit of testing and studies have conducted on clients who have suffered from substance abuse or parasuicidality symptoms. On the other hand ACT may have been tried out and examined in a wider area. It may also have gone through many different types of clinical trials. However, the replication may be lesser when compared to DBT. On the other side, ACT has been tried out on more number of disorders including substance abuse, chronic pain, workplace settings, depression, anxiety and perhaps a dozen or more disorders that are connected with physical, mental and emotional aspects of various persons across all ages.

Those who have reasonably good understanding about ACT and DBT believe that there are a few more differences between the two. DBT is known to adopt an approach that is more educative. On the other hand, ACT perhaps relies more on experiments and trials. Further, DBT is based on a biosocial perspective as far as behaviors are concerned. On the other hand ACT is based more on contextual things and happenings. ACT according to experts is cotextualistic and functional while the DBT philosophy leans more towards dialectical approaches. DBT generally is a method of treatment that is applied to a group or community of people.

A community of clinicians are also a part of it. On the other hand, ACT is more towards individual attention. However, it would be wrong to state that ACT cannot be used on a community of clients but the instances are few and far between when compared to CBT. However, at the end of the day, the most common things about CBT and ACT are that they offer focused and specific strategies of treatment and this is perhaps what makes them unique and different from other approaches.


To conclude, there is no doubt that both ACT and CBT are popular, useful, and result-oriented in their own ways and both of them have their own special points and perhaps some downsides too. At the end of the day, the therapist is the best person who can decide on the right approach taking into account specific needs and requirements and also other factors such as the general health of the clients, the kind of substance abuse, and other things that they may have been subjected to.

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