Dialectical Behavior Therapy

hands holding rockOur state-certified Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) program combines cognitive behavior therapy, which emphasizes changing behavior and thought patterns, with mindfulness and self-acceptance. Through group skills training, specialized individual therapy, and phone coaching, participants develop skills in the following areas: mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance. These are practical, action steps to improve coping and resilience.

DBT  was originally designed to reduce self-injury and suicide, which are common symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder. Because DBT is shown to be effective in improving control over intense, painful emotions, DBT has also been used, in various formats, to successfully treat treatment-resistant depression, substance use problems that co-occur with Borderline symptoms, and anxiety and trauma-related disorders.

  • Does DBT work? DBT is an “evidence-based practice,” which means that, when carefully studied in the lab and in clinics, DBT works. Positive effects include reductions in depression severity, anxiety symptoms, related substance use problems, eating disorders, trauma-related symptoms, suicidal behavior, self-injury, hospitalizations, and emergency room visits.
  • How long does it take? The first priority in DBT is to establish and stabilize safety, if needed. This first step often can be achieved in 4-8 months. Research indicates that the best results are obtained after 1 year of work in the program. This timeline allows for skills to be learned in a lasting way, and to begin work on building each participant’s life-worth-living. Length of treatment can vary, depending on the complexity of participants’ mental health status, as well as participants’ goals and preferences.

Program Components

  • Group Skills Training: Skills groups typically meet once a week for 2-3 hours. Each meeting includes DBT Skills instruction and discussion. This is also an opportunity for participants to share feedback and support.
  • Individual DBT Therapy: Participants attend weekly individual sessions with a trained DBT therapist, who assists in applying DBT skills to your own personal situations as they arise.
  • Phone Coaching: As needed, participants can access “coaching” on how to apply skills in the moment, outside of the therapy-hour. Phone coaching helps participants maximize effectiveness of their learning,
  • Diary Cards and Assignments: Participants learn how to rate their mood, behavior, and skills on a daily basis. “Diary Cards” are used in both Skills Group and Individual DBT Therapy to enhance learning. Practice exercises are also assigned.

Why start now? DBT is intensive and requires a lot of time and energy. Individuals who experience intense emotional pain struggle to effectively manage their symptoms. Impulsive reactions to the intense emotional pain can lead to legal problems, child protection issues, physical injuries and health-related problems, financial instability, job loss, and loss of relational support. In such cases, earlier intervention can help to resolve and repair such situations before they become

For more information on how DBT can help, please contact us.