Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based psychotherapy and type of cognitive-behavioral therapy originally developed by Marsha Linehan, PhD to treat individuals with borderline personality disorder, self-harming behaviors and suicidal behaviors. Since its development in the late 1980s, DBT has been adapted to other populations including adolescents and families, individuals with substance use disorders, and mood disorders. The goal of DBT is to build a life worth living. Our DBT therapists work as a team with clients to reach the established goals in treatment.

Research has shown DBT is effective with reducing suicidal behavior, non-suicidal self-injury (NSIB), psychiatric hospitalizations, treatment drop-outs, and anger, and improving social and global functioning. Current research can be found at: www.linehaninstitute.org.

DBT is composed of the following skills modules: Mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and walking the middle path (adolescents only). More information on the skills modules can be found below:


Mindfulness: The practice of being fully aware and present in the current moment. This is a strong foundation to DBT treatment as mindfulness skills are an essential component of all the other skills taught.

Emotion Regulation

What are the functions of emotions? This module focuses on the function of emotion, learning to understand and name emotions, decrease unwanted emotions, decrease vulnerability to emotions, and decrease emotional suffering. In other words: regulate (change) emotions if you want to.

Walking the Middle Path (adolescent group only):

This module is focused on avoiding parent/teen extremes, learning how to validate (understand) others, and how to increase behaviors you want, while decreasing behaviors you don’t want.

Interpersonal Effectiveness

This module focuses on having effective relationships, including building healthy relationships, maintaining self-respect, and being effective in asking for what you want, while also saying “no” effectively.

Distress Tolerance

These skills are focused on crisis survival: how to cope with painful emotions and experiences without making them worse. In crisis, it’s difficult not to act impulsively: these skills are to help in those times.

Our DBT program services adults and adolescents 13 and older, with a history of emotional instability, intense, unstable relationships, impulsive behaviors, including self-harm and suicidal impulses. Additionally, DBT works with clients diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety, and a history of trauma.

We provide adherent DBT treatment for adults, adolescents, and young adults. An adherent DBT treatment program consists of weekly structured individual therapy sessions, group skills training, skills coaching, and consultation team. You can read more about each part of the program below:

Structured Individual Therapy

Focuses on specific behaviors. Increasing motivation and to help clients apply the DBT skills to specific challenges and events in their lives. Clients are expected to track their behaviors and emotions between sessions. Individual therapy takes place once a week for as long as the client is in the DBT program.

Skills Coaching

Focuses on providing clients with in-the-moment coaching on how to use skills to effectively cope with difficult situations that arise in their everyday lives. Clients can call their individual therapist between sessions to receive coaching at the times when they need help the most.

Group Skills Training

Focuses on enhancing individual capabilities by teaching them multiple behavioral skills organized in modules/ The group meets on a weekly basis for 1.5 hours. DBT is most effective when an individual completes 1 year of group skills training.

Consultation Team

Is clinical consultation for and between DBT therapists to help ensure the provided DBT treatment is effective and consistent with the principles of the DBT model. DBT therapists apply the treatment to each other and gain support.

Friends and Family DBT Skill Group

The DBT Family Skills Training (DBT-FST) adaptation is a family program build on the DBT principals. Through a series of sessions, family members and partners will learn skills to better cope and support their loved one struggling with chronic emotional dysregulation.

The Family Skills Training has four goals:

  • Educate family members on different aspects of Borderline
    Personality Disorder
  • Teach family members communication styles to create a
    mutually validating environment
  • Help family members become less judgmental toward each other
  • Provide a safe forum for family members to discuss issues like
    self-destructive thoughts and behaviors, rejection, anger,
    sadness, and suicidal thoughts

This program uses DBT skills adapted from the six- month DBT skills training for individuals struggling with BPD and issues of emotional dysregulation.