Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a comprehensive outpatient psychotherapy program designed for individuals struggling with chronic behavioral issues that are seriously compromising the quality of their lives. It was originally designed to treat people struggling with the recurrent suicidal behaviors associated with Borderline Personality Disorder. Research now strongly supports its use for a wide variety of clinical issues that are rooted in emotional dysregulation or impulse control, including: substance use disorders; Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); depression; eating disorders.
DBT consists of four core components that must be offered simultaneously for the treatment to be considered comprehensive and adherent. The absence of any of the components results in the provision of DBT-informed therapy, which does not currently have evidence supporting its effectiveness. The four components are:
- Skills Training Group: The heart and soul of DBT is skills training. The skills training group assists clients with overcoming skills deficits through the acquisition of dozens of skills in the following four areas: mindfulness; emotion regulation; distress tolerance; interpersonal effectiveness. Clients attend one 90-minute group per week for 7-14 months depending on the severity of their issues.
- Individual Therapy: Individual therapy typically consists of one 50-minute session per week. Therapy complements skills training by: enhancing motivation to practice skills; targeting specific areas of ineffectiveness; assisting with the transition to more skillful behavior.
- Phone Coaching: Phone coaching is offered to DBT clients on a 24/7 basis. It serves as live assistance with applying skills in clients’ real world environments. DBT understands that more change happens outside of therapy than inside the consulting room and phone coaching is designed to effectively shape positive change on a daily basis.
- Therapist Consultation Team: The consultation team serves as therapy for the therapists. Anyone providing DBT at The Wise Mind Institute meets weekly for a two-hour team meeting where therapists support one another to deliver treatment in the most effective way possible.