top of page

Dialectics, What Is It?


Dialectical means that two seemingly opposing positions can both make sense at the same time, and when considered together, it can create a new way of looking at the situation.


Dialectical Life = Balanced Life

When we approach life dialectically, we are able to:

  • see that all people have unique qualities and different points of view.

  • honor the truth on both sides of a conflict.  We validate others' points of view without giving up our values.   

  • become more flexible in our thoughts, and more likely to find a new way to solve the problem wisely.

  • avoid extreme positions such as “black or white” or “either...or” thinking.  Instead, we use “both...and” thinking to find the middle ground in life situations.      


Examples of Dialectical Self-Statements

  • I am doing the best I can AND I can try harder, do better, and be more motivated to change.

  • I can be shy AND I can be outgoing.

  • My parents are really strict AND they really care about me.

  • I feel sad when I got an F on my math exam AND I can still enjoy the rest of the day.

  • I feel nervous about public speaking AND I feel excited to interact with the audience.   

  • There are a lot of tasks at hand AND I can focus on doing one thing at the time.    

  • I can be honest about my opinions AND thoughtful without hurting others' feelings. 


What Is DBT's Biosocial Theory?

DBT theorizes that a person's severe emotional dysregulation and problematic behavioral strategies stems from a combination of biological predisposition (e.g., emotional vulnerability) and environmental factors (e.g.,chronic invalidation from one's environment).


  • Invalidating Environment - The invalidating environment is defined by the tendency of others (often with good intentions) to negate and/or respond erratically and inappropriately to private emotional experiences.


  • Normal Invalidation - It is natural and normal that even within a well-meaning, caring, and loving family, invalidation can still occur. It is defined as a “normal level” of invalidation.


  • Development of Emotional Dysregulation - The transactional nature of biosocial theory implies that individuals may develop patterns of dysregulation via different routes. Emotional dysregulation can result from the transaction between a person with a high level of emotional vulnerability and a family with a normal level of invalidation. It can also result from the transaction between a person with a low level of emotional vulnerability and a family with a high intensity of invalidation.

bottom of page