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How We Treat

DBT Prolonged Exposure (DBT-PE)

DBT-PE is an adaptation of standard DBT that is specifically designed to treat trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

While standard DBT is highly effective in helping people gain more control over their behaviors and regulate their emotions, additional treatment may be needed to address underlying trauma responses. In DBT-PE, clients initially work with the therapist to establish safety and gain the skills needed to cope with addressing trauma. 

While continuing in all modes of standard DBT, DBT-PE then addresses memories and beliefs related to the client’s trauma history. This stage takes approximately 3-4 months to complete on average. The final stage of therapy addresses any potential challenges that can arise after treating PTSD.

Three Steps of DBT Prolonged Exposure​

Being aware of your Feelings through DBT-PE

The first step of DBT-PE is to help clients become more aware of how they are feeling and what triggers them to feel this way. This involves helping the client identify their emotions, recognize patterns in their behavior, and learn new ways of responding to difficult situations. Through this process, clients can develop a greater understanding of themselves and gain insight into why certain things may trigger them or make them feel overwhelmed.

Managing Emotions and Thoughts with DBT-PE Therapy​

The second step focuses on teaching clients skills for managing their emotions and thoughts. This includes teaching skills for mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, problem-solving, and interpersonal effectiveness. Through these skills clients can learn how to better manage their emotions in the moment and develop healthier ways of responding to difficult situations.

Confronting Trauma through DBT-PE Therapy ​

The third step involves Prolonged Exposure (PE). During PE sessions, clients are guided through a structured process to help them confront traumatic memories that they may be avoiding or have difficulty processing. The goal is to help the client gain mastery over their trauma by facing it directly in a safe environment with the support of a trained therapist.

Is DBT-PE The Right Therapy for me?

DBT-PE provides an effective treatment for individuals who have experienced trauma or PTSD as well as those struggling with anxiety, depression, substance use, and relationship issues. By combining elements of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Prolonged Exposure, DBT-PE offers a comprehensive approach to healing from trauma and creating lasting change in one’s life.

DBT Prolonged Exposure (DBT-PE) FAQs

Benefits & Effectiveness of DBT-PE

Dialectical Behavior Therapy – Prolonged Exposure (DBT-PE) helps individuals develop essential skills needed to cope with trauma-related symptoms. This is done through various modules focusing on DBT’s mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. 

One of the main benefits of DBT-PE is its evidence-based effectiveness. Research has shown that DBT-PE significantly reduces PTSD symptoms, offering individuals the opportunity to regain control over their lives. The skills learned in DBT-PE also extend beyond trauma recovery, providing individuals with tools to navigate life’s challenges, regulate emotions, and enhance their overall quality of life. With its holistic approach and proven track record, DBT-PE stands as a valuable therapeutic option for those seeking relief from the debilitating effects of PTSD and trauma, offering hope for a brighter, more stable future.

DBT-PE therapy is designed to be a valuable resource for individuals who have experienced trauma, especially those struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related mental health challenges. It can benefit people who find themselves overwhelmed by intense emotions, and impulsive behaviors, and who have difficulty in regulating their reactions to trauma triggers. DBT-PE is also well-suited for those who are seeking a structured and evidence-based approach to healing from trauma while also developing essential coping skills.

DBT-PE therapy is best for individuals who are seeking empowerment and long-term recovery from PTSD and related issues.

The role of trauma in mental health is profound and far-reaching. Trauma, whether resulting from a single traumatic event or chronic exposure to stressors, can significantly impact an individual’s psychological well-being. Traumatic experiences often create lasting emotional imprints in our minds that can manifest as various mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, depression, and complex trauma-related disorders.

Trauma can disrupt an individual’s sense of safety, trust, and emotional regulation, leading to symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, hyper vigilance, and avoidance behaviors. These symptoms can interfere with daily functioning and strain relationships with friends, family members, and loved ones. Additionally, untreated trauma can contribute to a variety of mental health challenges, highlighting the critical importance of addressing trauma in mental health care. 

Recognizing and addressing trauma’s role in mental health is essential for effective diagnosis and treatment, as it enables individuals to work towards healing, recovery, and improved overall well-being.

DBT-PE aids individuals with PTSD by integrating mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness modules, which then help individuals build essential coping skills needed to manage overwhelming emotions and reactions triggered by traumatic memories. Additionally, DBT-PE incorporates prolonged exposure techniques, allowing individuals to gradually confront and process traumatic memories in a safe and controlled manner. This exposure helps desensitize individuals to the distressing aspects of their trauma, ultimately leading to a reduction in PTSD symptoms.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy Prolonged Exposure (DBT-PE) is primarily designed as a structured and comprehensive approach to addressing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related issues. While it is not intended as a quick-fix or short-term solution, it can lead to significant and lasting benefits over the long term; via the application of coping skills which will help with the processing of traumatic memories, ultimately aiming for sustained symptom reduction and improved overall well-being.

We Can Help.

If you or a loved one can benefit from DBT Prolonged Exposure (DBT-PE), we are here to help.
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