What is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)?

DBT is an evidence-based treatment used to effectively help people be mindful of the present moment, cope with stress in healthy ways, regulate their emotions effectively and relate to others in healthy, balanced ways. DBT was originally created to treat Borderline Personality Disorder; however, it has also been effective in treating mood disorders, suicidality, substance use, ADHD, eating disorders, anxiety, self-harming behaviors, OCD, and PTSD.

What is DBT Skills Group?

DBT Skills Group is not a regular psychotherapy group, but focused on education of core skills to allow the client to live a more functional, healthy life. This service is provided in conjunction with the client’s individual therapist. Having an individual therapist is a requirement of enrolling in DBT Skills Group.

DBT Skills Group will first teach the client Core Mindfulness skills to help them live in the present moment, connect to their own thoughts, feelings, and body sensations and with what is happening around them in ways that are effective, nonjudgmental, and focused. The client will then learn three other modules of skills with mindfulness “refreshers” in between:

  • Distress Tolerance – Accepting themselves and their situation without making things worse.
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness – Having appropriate boundaries in relationships, having positive interactions and getting both or own needs and the needs of others met.
  • Emotion Regulation – Coping with intense negative emotions, reducing vulnerability to mood fluctuations, and feeling more positive from day to day.

Completing the above three modules (which range from 5-7 weeks each) one time allows for graduation from CMMHC’s DBT Skills Group but twice through each module is recommended. Completion takes 24 weeks.

What does a DBT Individual Therapist do?

A DBT Individual Therapist is trained in DBT Skills and helps the client process through how they are using the skills in their own individual circumstances. Additionally, any significant negative behaviors, also known as “target behaviors” (i.e. self-harm, substance abuse, missing treatment, etc.) are processed through using a behavior chain analysis that help the client identify the thoughts, feelings, body sensations, and behaviors involved leading up to the situation, and the consequences of any behaviors and what skills can be used moving forward.

Does CMMHC do DBT Coaching Calls?

There are certified DBT programs at agencies that include DBT Coaching Calls as part of their package of services. We are not a certified DBT program, we rely on our excellent crisis team to help our clients manage crises. Our Crisis team does an excellent job of following up with the providers.

What about DBT Consultation Team?

Our DBT Skills Group therapists do meet monthly to discuss cases, along with attending multidisciplinary team meetings. We ensure we are maintaining appropriate boundaries and offering consistent care across agencies using the same DBT Skills Group curriculum.