Dialectical Behavior Therapy

We are part of one of the few intensively-trained, non-hospital based, DBT teams in New Jersey: DBT Consultants for Eating Disorders. We received our training from Behavioral Tech, Inc., the company started by Marsha Linehan, the developer of DBT treatment.

What is DBT?

DBT blends cognitive behavioral strategies designed to promote change with mindfulness practices designed to promote acceptance along with a dialectical perspective that helps expand our lens on life and allow for greater flexibility and happiness. With a wealth of empirical evidence behind it, DBT is a proven treatment for helping people manage intense emotions and self-destructive behaviors, stemming from emotional dysregulation, including eating disorders, self-injury, depression, anxiety, high conflict relationships’ just to name a few.

DBT treatment is a team oriented approach that incorporates weekly Individual Therapy, weekly Skills Training, along with Phone Coaching outside of session, to help generalize the skills taught in treatment to one’s real life challenges outside of therapy.

DBT Skills are essentially coping mechanisms, meant to support one’s individual therapeutic goals. After all, changing self- destructive behaviors and thought patterns require new, effective ways to deal with life’s difficulties. Team clinicians meet weekly for case consultation and therapist support designed to enhance adherence to DBT principles.

The ultimate goal of DBT treatment is to help individuals build, as Marsha Linehan would say “A LIFE WORTH LIVING”

Before determining if DBT is the best treatment for you, a thorough consultation and assessment will be conducted.

Who is DBT for?

While DBT was originally developed by Marsha Linehan for suicidal
people with Borderline Personality Disorder, it has been researched and
adapted with great success for many other populations, including those
who struggle with:

  • Eating Disorders
  • Self-Injury
  • Impulse Control
  • Mood and Affect Disorders
  • Anxiety
  • High Conflict Relationships
  • Addiction
  • Anger Management Issues
  • Childhood Anxiety (See Families and Adolescents)
  • Couples (See Families and Adolescents)

DBT is ideal for those of us who tend to be more emotionally
sensitive; who tend to feel emotions intensely and rapidly and may take a
while to recover from these strong emotional surges. While there is
nothing wrong with being a sensitive person, you may have been told that
there is. This, in turn, may have intensified your emotions and
prevented you from getting the help you needed and from learning how to
take care of yourself at these times, resulting in increased emotional
suffering. Life can become painful and even spiral out of control for
individuals with this pattern as they grasp for any means to alleviate
this pain.

Your individual therapist will help you identify your goals and target behaviors, give you a safe, accepting and compassionate place to speak in-depth about your difficulties, identify patterns and triggers in your environment as well as in your behaviors, thoughts and feelings. Individual therapy occurs at least once per week.

Skills training group classes are attended weekly. New participants  are welcome at the beginning of each module. There are four modules of
DBT skills that classes rotate through. These are not “typical psychotherapy” groups where members talk to each other and process their feelings and reactions to the group. These are classes where the group leader, and perhaps a co-leader, presents the DBT curriculum of skills to be learned and practiced. Members may share as much or as little as is comfortable for them about their skill use.

Skills Training includes the four standard modules of DBT, which take 26 weeks to complete and include:

Core Mindfulness:
To develop greater awareness and focus, in the moment, without
judgment, to produce a greater sense of self, increased self-acceptance
and more internal calm.

Emotional Regulation:
To better identify and manage your emotions by enhancing positive emotions and accepting distressful emotions.

Distress Tolerance:
Designed to better control impulsive behavior and handle life’s
difficulties when we can’t change them — without acting on the distress
and behavioral urges that can create new problems.

Interpersonal Effectiveness:
Improve your relationships, your communication skills and ability to resolve conflict respectfully.

DBT has been modified for adolescents and their families and has a large body of research to support this modification. Skills training include the four standard modules of skills (Distress Tolerance, Emotional Regulation, Interpersonal Effectiveness and Mindfulness See Adult Skills Training section) with the addition of a fifth module.

Walking the Middle Path

Designed to address the typical communication pitfalls, developmental concerns and power struggles often seen between adolescents and their families. Teens participate in individual DBT sessions weekly as in the adult model. The modification to treatment incorporates parents into the skills class along with the teen because parents are a powerful force in a teenager’s life. This makes sure that teen and parent is learning to use the same tools and strategies so that parents can successfully support the treatment goals.


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