Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Certified by MN DHS

What is DBT?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a skill based therapy in which individuals learn adaptive skills to manage emotional distress and improve relationships.  DBT was first developed by Marsha Linehan, to treat individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder, but clinical research has shown that it is one of the most effective therapies for Major Depressive Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Bi-Polar Disorder, and Chemical Dependency as well.

How is DBT implemented at Advanced Behavioral Health?

DBT consists of individual therapy and weekly skills group.  In skills group, individuals will work through the four modules of skills: Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation, and Distress Tolerance.  Skills group is typically 90 -120 minutes.

Individuals will complete a weekly diary card, to help them track emotions, maladaptive behaviors, and skill usage.  In individual therapy, the diary card is reviewed each week, and the therapist supports the individual in applying the skills they are learning in group.

Individuals will typically participate in at least 2 cycles of learning each Modules, some individuals will need a longer time to learn the skills, and may choose to stay in group for longer. Individuals will typically be in DBT for at least 1 year, and many stay in DBT for up to 3 years, depending on their learning style.

Who can participate in DBT?

To participate in Advanced Behavioral Health’s DBT program, individuals need to be 18 years or older, have a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, a Mood Disorder (Major Depression, Bi-Polar Disorder), or a mental illness that causes significant impairment in emotion regulation and /or self-harm, suicidal thoughts or gestures, or behaviors.

How do Individuals get started in the DBT program?

If an individual is a new client to ABH, they will be scheduled to meet with a licensed therapist for a Diagnostic Assessment.  This therapist is typically then the individual (primary) therapist for the client.  Once it has been determined that DBT is an appropriate therapy treatment for the individual, he or she will begin attending individual therapy weekly, and skills group on a weekly basis.  Individuals who already participate in therapy at ABH can discuss with their therapist whether DBT would be beneficial for them.  ABH offers skills groups for various levels of cognitive functioning.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy helps individuals:

  • Gain insight and increase control over emotions
  • Change negative thought patterns
  • Manage intense emotional distress
  • Resist impulsive, emotional urges, such as self-harm, suicidal behavior or aggressiveness
  • Improve relationships
  • Increase their sense of self and confidence

Dialectical Behavior Therapy and the Focus on Wise Mind

In Dialectical Behavior Therapy, individuals learn the difference between emotional thinking, which tends to lead to impulsive behavior, and reasonable thinking which solely relies on logic, and doesn’t take emotions into consideration.  The goal of DBT is to help the individual gain insight into these thought processes, and develop their “wise mind”, which looks at all the factors of a situation.