Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Although initially intended to help chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, DBT has since been adapted for and used to effectively treat a number of other psychological problems. The central dialectic within DBT is to balance acceptance of the person exactly as s/he is in this moment with intense efforts to change the person’s life to increase adaptive functioning and decrease maladaptive behavior. The overarching goal of treatment with DBT is to help individuals develop “a life worth living.”
DBT was originally developed for individuals who suffered from borderline personality disorder, a psychological condition in which people have great difficulty managing their emotions. DBT has also been adapted to treat other psychological problems in which the clinical feature of the presenting symptoms stem from maladaptive efforts to control intense, negative emotions or emotional dysregulation.
Central’s DBT program has four major components:
- Weekly individual (one-to-one) therapy
- Weekly group skills-training sessions
- As-needed consultation between client and therapist outside of sessions
- Weekly therapist consultation meeting in which DBT therapists meet to discuss their DBT cases
Central’s DBT program requests a commitment of 6 months, with a mutual decision to recommit for an additional 6 months. A participant would not be in the program longer than a year. The research studies conducted on DBT for BPD have all included one year of treatment or less. Unfortunately, this does not mean that individuals should expect to be completely free of symptoms or no longer have problem behaviors at one year. Research suggests that “behavioral control”, that is the absence of suicidal behaviors and other life-threatening behaviors as well as severe quality-of-life interfering behaviors, can often be achieved within four to eight months of comprehensive DBT.
Individuals, ages 18 years and older and living in eastern and central Montgomery County, who would like to begin this modality of treatment will first complete an intake through Central’s Outpatient department. Requirements include: identification of past attempts to have mental health needs met with other community based supports; diagnosis of borderline personality disorder or multiple mental health diagnoses, exhibiting behaviors characterized by impulsivity or intentional self-harm, and severe dysfunction across multiple life areas. Contact an intake worker at our Outpatient & Intake Services location to schedule your confidential appointment. Once the intake is completed, an application will be completed by your behavioral health professional and submitted to the DBT program. Participants must be willing to commit to participating in all individual and group skills appointments and we request a 6 month commitment when you begin this empirically supported program.