How We Treat
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
Are you looking for help dealing with intense emotions and improving how you relate to others? Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) can be a powerful tool to help you develop new skills and gain an understanding of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
DBT Therapy, a treatment backed by decades of scientific research, helps clients regulate intense emotions—teaching them how to manage and curb negative feelings, increase positive experiences, and live in the moment.
DBT is designed to be a relatively short-term treatment that provides a structured path forward by relying on four core elements: weekly individual therapy, weekly skills training group, phone coaching in between sessions, and weekly participation by therapists in a peer consultation team that helps them hone their skills. The structured approach differs dramatically from traditional “talk therapy,” which typically involves open-ended discussions that can vary in focus from session to session depending on whatever is top of mind for the client.
While DBT originated as a treatment for chronically suicidal individuals, it has evolved so that anyone who wants to have a different relationship with their emotional experience can benefit from DBT therapy and the skills it fosters. The treatment can help individuals who are struggling with loneliness, anxiety, emptiness, destructive impulses, depression, conflict in relationships, absence of flexibility, extreme emotional swings, and trouble tolerating stress or change. Some of the more complex health issues that DBT is designed to address include borderline personality disorder, self-harming behavior, major depression, substance abuse, and eating disorders. However, most people can benefit from some portions of the treatment (see Emotion Fitness Program, EFT).
A properly trained DBT therapist will:
- Change your relationship with your emotions, not push you to get rid of them
- Help clients regulate intense emotions by teaching mindfulness techniques
- Collaborate to find alternatives to ineffective behavior, not just provide an outlet to vent
- Work with clients on improving interpersonal relationships and communication skills
- Set an agenda for every session based on your “diary card,” not press forward without a clear structure
- Continuously monitor progress and adjust treatment as needed based on individual needs
- Identify what prompts unwanted feelings and patterns, not judge them
Note: Many therapists use the DBT label even when they have limited training and/or use only portions of the treatment. Each therapist on our team has far exceeded the requisite number of training and clinical hours required, and we maintain ongoing training and development for our entire team.
At the Counseling Center Group, we adhere to DBT treatment as Dr. Marsha M. Linehan developed it. We are committed to providing DBT adherently, in the way that research has supported it to be effective for both individuals and groups alike.
We Can Help.
DBT Programs in Maryland & New York
Our experienced, licensed therapists are highly trained in DBT, providing compassionate and expert care with the goal of helping restore balance to your life.
At Counseling Center Group, we recognize the importance of having an experienced therapist who is committed to your success in achieving lasting results from your treatment program. We offer comprehensive treatments based on our professional experience & scientific research that are tailored to meet your unique needs. We are dedicated to providing a safe environment where you can explore new ways of understanding yourself & work towards achieving positive outcomes in your life moving forward. Whether through DBT therapies such as Individual Therapy, Group Skills Training, Telephone Coaching, video therapy sessions & more, your journey to success starts with us! See below for all our locations.
Dialectical behavior therapy is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) used to treat various psychological disorders including borderline personality disorder, trauma-related issues, anxiety, and depression. It was developed by researcher Marsha Linehan as a means of incorporating skills from Eastern mindfulness practices with Western psychotherapeutic concepts and philosophy.
At its core, DBT seeks to help people increase their psychological flexibility and build skills for coping with distress and managing emotions. It helps them learn how to balance change and acceptance through dialectics—a philosophical concept that involves two seemingly opposing ideas or views coming together to create a synthesis. The therapist helps the client bridge polarizing perspectives into a workable solution, which is often referred to as “the middle path” or “the wise mind.”
The practice of DBT involves four skill modules: Mindfulness, Distress Tolerance, Emotion Regulation, and Interpersonal Effectiveness. Through learning these skills, clients can develop greater self-awareness, more adaptive coping mechanisms for dealing with stressors, improved communication skills for interacting with others in relationships, and the ability to make behavioral changes when needed.
In addition to the skills modules mentioned above, DBT also includes general principles that guide therapy sessions. These include validating client experiences; providing guidance while still allowing autonomy; helping clients find meaning in their experiences; fostering collaboration between therapist and client; utilizing behaviorism techniques such as reinforcement, punishment and extinction; problem-solving techniques; improving communication between therapist and client; setting goals based on individual needs rather than just symptom reduction; accepting mistakes as part of the learning process; recognizing the possibility for growth even when progress seems slow or nonexistent; using praise to reinforce positive behaviors; emphasizing self-care over any other activity during therapy sessions; encouraging out of session practice of learned skills between counseling sessions outside of treatment sessions with loved ones or peers that can assist in recovery efforts or serve as a sounding board for clients when they need assistance in navigating difficult situations related to the skill sets gained during therapy work.
Additionally, psychoeducation around specific topics related to mental health can be used as needed throughout treatment, depending on individual issues presented by each person receiving services.
Studies have indeed been conducted to assess the effectiveness of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) as a treatment for various mental health issues. A systematic review and meta-analysis published in 2015 and conducted by researchers at Oxford University, for example, concluded that DBT was an effective intervention for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Other research has found DBT to be successful in decreasing symptoms of depression, improving social functioning, and assisting with anger management.
Multiple studies have also suggested that DBT can reduce self-harm behaviors among those with BPD and reduce anxiety symptoms among participants suffering from a generalized anxiety disorder. Additionally, numerous reviews have pointed out that when compared to other therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), there is evidence suggesting that DBT may be slightly more effective than CBT in reducing symptoms related to BPD. The efficacy of DBT has also been supported through randomized controlled trials, indicating the long-term benefits associated with this type of therapy over time.
Specifically, these studies suggest that individuals who undergo at least one year of treatment experience more significant improvements in overall psychological functioning compared to those who receive shorter periods of treatment or no treatment at all. Lastly, the results from the various research studies conducted on Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) support its potential use as an effective therapeutic intervention for a wide range of mental health issues, including depression and anxiety disorders.