Dialectical Behavior Therapy -- DBT
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Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a therapeutic tool that is used for multiple purposes, especially where need for self control is at issue. It has been research validated as a treatment for Borderline Personality disorder. 

This therapy was developed by Marsha Linehan, Ph. D.  Trainings and certifications in application of DBT techniques are offered by Behavioral Tech, LLC., under leadership of Dr. Linehan.

DBT was originally designed as an outpatient modality, and must be modified to some degree when used in a residential setting. In addition many residential programs make different claims about DBT when promoting their programs, and these claims can be misleading.  Some programs will say "we apply DBT principles."   That is not very specific information.  Be careful.

In order to sort out claims about use of DBT, you (the reader) need to inquire in some depth as to what is actually happening. We suggest answering the following questions:   (1) Which staff members are certified by Behavioral Tech, LLC. (2) Please describe your DBT groups. Are they led by certified therapists?  (3) Please be specific about DBT reinforcement during school and other activities outside DBT groups and therapy sessions. (4) For a student understood as a result of your assessment / diagnosis to be in need of DBT, please describe that person’s interaction with DBT instruction/ therapy/ groups/ supports. (5) What Linehan recommended DBT procedures do you not use?  (Please explain any deviation from Linehan recommended procedures).

Question (3) may call for further explanation.  Some residential programs that use DBT address DBT techniques only in DBT sessions (group or individual). Others have all staff trained to reinforce DBT skills every time in the normal course of events a situation arises in which DBT skills might apply. 

Because there is such wide variation in what is actually offered in schools and programs that claim use of DBT, it is important to pin the schools and programs down to what they are actually doing.  

At the same time, we do not want to suggest that schools and programs that use "DBT concepts" that are not directed by certified therapists are without value.  We believe there are valuable tools that resemble DBT that are not quite identical to a strict application of the Linehan model, guided by staff who are not Linehan trained and certified.  It is important that when parents and referring professionals are told that a school or program offers DBT, it is important to find out precisely what is meant.  Without understanding that, you cannot know whether or not what is offered suits your needs. 

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Explanation of DBT

Behavioral Tech, LLC. (Martha Linnehan's Company)

What is DBT (from Behavioral Tech, LLC.)

Notes Index

Last updated April 25, 2010


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