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RO-DBT vs. Traditional DBT: Which is Right for You?

RO-DBT book and traditional DBT book
RO-DBT vs. traditional DBT: which one is right?

When it comes to improving emotional well-being and enhancing interpersonal skills, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) stands out as an effective and evidence-based approach. However, within the realm of DBT, there are two distinct variations: Traditional DBT and Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy (RO-DBT). In this blog, we'll explore RO-DBT vs. traditional DBT by going over the key differences between these two approaches and help you determine which one might be the right fit for your specific needs.

Traditional DBT: A Brief Overview

Traditional DBT, developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan, was initially designed to address emotional dysregulation, self-harm, suicidal ideation, and impulsive behaviors. It consists of four core modules: mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance. Traditional DBT is particularly effective for individuals who struggle with intense emotions, self-destructive tendencies, and impulsivity.

RO-DBT: A Fresh Perspective

RO-DBT, on the other hand, is a more recent adaptation of DBT, developed by Dr. Thomas Lynch. It targets a different subset of individuals: those who experience excessive self-control, perfectionism, and a strong need for social approval. RO-DBT emphasizes the importance of flexibility, open-mindedness, and social connectedness. It incorporates a distinct set of skills and principles to help individuals become more receptive and open in their interactions.

Key Differences

Target Population:

  • Traditional DBT: Aimed at individuals with emotion dysregulation, impulsive behavior, and self-harm tendencies.

  • RO-DBT: Geared towards those with overcontrolled traits, including perfectionism and social inhibition.

Core Principles:

  • Traditional DBT focuses on managing intense emotions, improving emotional regulation, and reducing self-destructive behaviors.

  • RO-DBT emphasizes radical openness, social signaling, and emotional awareness to enhance social connections and reduce excessive self-control.

Treatment Focus:

  • Traditional DBT addresses issues related to crisis management and self-harm reduction.

  • RO-DBT targets long-term changes in personality traits and social functioning.

Choosing the Right Approach

Determining whether Traditional DBT or RO-DBT is the right fit for you depends on your specific challenges and goals. Here are some considerations:

If you struggle with intense emotions, impulsivity, and self-destructive behaviors, Traditional DBT may be more appropriate for addressing these immediate concerns.

If you find yourself excessively focused on self-control, perfectionism, and have difficulty connecting with others, RO-DBT may offer valuable insights and skills to enhance your social interactions and overall well-being.

Seeking guidance from qualified professionals who can help point you in the right direction regarding treatment suggestions is a crucial in making an informed choice about which approach is the best fit.


Both Traditional DBT and RO-DBT are powerful therapeutic approaches within the DBT framework, but they cater to different sets of challenges. The decision on which one is right for you should be based on your specific emotional and interpersonal struggles. In order to determine which approach is best for you, it’s important to discuss options with a licensed professional or a DBT certified therapist.

That’s where we come in. At PSYCHē, we have certified DBT therapists as well as certified RO-DBT therapists who can assess your individual needs and provide personalized recommendations. Reach out for more information or book a consultation online today.

We offer multiple DBT Skills Groups as well as an RO-DBT Skills Group. Groups are like a class, not therapy. Click the link to enroll in a group today.


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