Radically open dialectical behavior therapy: Social signaling, transdiagnostic utility and current evidence

Kirsten Gilbert, Karyn Hall, R. Trent Codd

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


At the core of an overcontrolled personality and coping style is a tendency to have too much self-control, exhibiting as behavioral and cognitive inflexibility, high inhibition of emotion, high detail-focused processing and perfectionism, and a lack of social connectedness. Overcontrol underlies a wide variety of psychiatric illnesses and as such, an innovative transdiagnostic therapy called Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy (RO DBT) has been developed to treat disorders characterized by overcontrol. RO DBT targets maladaptive social signaling in order to help individuals “rejoin the tribe,” hypothesizing that increasing social connectedness by means of targeting social signaling is the central mechanism of change in treatment. Because RO DBT is used for individuals with an overcontrolled personality style, rather than individual disordered symptoms, it can be used transdiagnostically across a range of comorbid disorders, including treatment-resistant depression and anxiety, anorexia nervosa, and personality disorders such as obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. The current article introduces this novel treatment approach and discusses its emphasis on social signaling and its transdiagnostic nature. We then provide the first review of existing literature testing the efficacy of RO DBT across clinical populations, discuss issues related to assessment of overcontrol, and speculate on future directions for this novel therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-28
Number of pages10
JournalPsychology Research and Behavior Management
StatePublished - 2020


  • Overcontrol
  • Psychological inflexibility
  • Radically open dialectical behavior therapy
  • Transdiagnostic


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