Effectiveness of dialectical behavior therapy as a transdiagnostic treatment for improving cognitive functions: a systematic review

Submitted: September 20, 2022
Accepted: May 14, 2023
Published: July 4, 2023
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Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) has been found to be an efficacious treatment for disorders characterized by high levels of emotional instability. In view of the multifaceted applications of DBT and the extent to which mental disorders can incapacitate cognitive functions, the current systematic review aimed to investigate the effect of DBT in strengthening cognitive functions across various mental health conditions. Original research studies employing both experimental and quasi-experimental designs were included in the review. The literature search was done using different electronic databases, from the first available literature until June 2022, that covered an approximate period of ten years. Joanna Briggs Institute checklist was used to assess the methodological rigor of the studies. Twelve studies conducted on adolescents with emotional dysregulation, and adults with borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and multiple sclerosis were selected. Results indicate that DBT has the potential to improve key cognitive functions such as attention, memory, fluency, response inhibition, planning, set shifting, tolerance for delayed rewards and time perception, as assessed by neuropsychological tests, self-report of cognitive functions, and neuroimaging techniques. Considering the review’s findings that showcase the effectiveness of DBT in fostering improvements in cognitive functions, DBT may possibly be chosen as a preferred treatment to ensure that patients reach optimal levels of cognitive functioning. Limitations include lack of sufficient studies encompassing all the common mental health conditions, usage of neuroimaging techniques as only an indirect measure of cognitive functioning and nuances related to the quality of individual studies.

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How to Cite

Vijayapriya, C., & Tamarana, R. (2023). Effectiveness of dialectical behavior therapy as a transdiagnostic treatment for improving cognitive functions: a systematic review. Research in Psychotherapy: Psychopathology, Process and Outcome, 26(2). https://doi.org/10.4081/ripppo.2023.662

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