For Therapists & Psychiatrists

For Therapists and Psychiatrists

Targets of DBT treatment: (In order of priority)

  1. Decreasing high-risk suicidal and self-harming behaviors
  2. Decreasing therapy interfering behaviors by either therapist or patient
  3. Decreasing quality of life interfering behaviors
  4. Learning and mastering behavioral skills for mood-independent life choices
  5. Decreasing symptoms related to post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression
  6. Enhancing and sustaining self-respect
  7. Additional goals set by patient to create a life worth living

Stages of DBT treatment:

Stage One

  • Decreasing or eliminating life-threatening behaviors (suicide attempts, suicidal thinking, self-injury, homicidal and aggressive behaviors)
  • Decreasing or eliminating therapy-interfering behaviors (missing sessions, not doing homework, behaving in a way that burns others out)
  • Reducing or eliminating hospitalization as a way of handling crisis
  • Decreasing behaviors that interfere with the quality of life (eating disorders, not going to work or school, addiction, chronic unemployment)
  • Increasing behaviors that will enable the person to have a life worth living
  • Increasing behavioral skills that help to build relationships, manage emotions and deal effectively with various life problems

Stage Two

  • Continuing and building on Stage One skills
  • Targeting and decreasing symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other Anxiety or Depression related symptoms

Stage Three

  • Increasing love and respect for self and others
  • Affirming individual life goals
  • Solving ordinary life problems

Stage Four

  • Developing the capacity for freedom and joy
  • Creating a life worth living!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I refer a client to Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training?

Therapists not trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy are often unaware of the specific benefits a client can receive from DBT skills Training. Dialectical Behavior Therapy as a modality is unique in its systematic approach to helping individuals with emotional regulation problems, particularly but not exclusively, those individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Dialectical Behavior Therapy views extreme thinking, behavior and emotions as the result of both motivation problems and capability deficits. Dialectical Behavior Therapy is unique because it includes both individual psychotherapy to address motivation issues (the motivation to stay alive and replace borderline behaviors with more skillful ones) and skills training to develop competency in the skills necessary to make that happen in real life. It is this translation from motivation to action that is crucial to therapeutic success. DBT as a mechanism for such success has been rigorously researched in clinical settings.

While DBT Skills Training can be offered individually, it is most powerful and effective in group settings. Either way, it is a necessary component of treatment for individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder or serious emotional regulation difficulties. Clients attend Skills Training weekly for up to a year or more, while remaining in individual psychotherapy. Skills Training includes a system of diary records, homework, and group accountability and is led by a trained DBT Skills Trainer.

I have worked with my client for years yet I know she could benefit from skills training. If I refer my client to South Bay DBT Associates how do I know I won’t lose my client permanently?

There are several ways we work with clients at San Jose DBT:

  • If a client who is not in individual therapy is referred to us for DBT, she would be referred to one of our network therapists who is DBT trained.
  • If you believe the client would benefit from DBT skills training and you are to remain that client’s individual therapist, our skills trainer will work collaboratively with you so that treatment goals can be met.
  • Specifically, we make a contract with non-DBT therapists who refer their clients to skills groups. The contract outlines the course of the skills training. It requests that the individual therapist refrain from doing recovery or trauma work until the client is sufficiently immersed in the skills training and better able to handle the deeper work in individual therapy. It is common for skills trainers to consult with individual therapists periodically to review client progress and help the non-DBT therapist learn how to reinforce the learning that occurs in skills training. We are here to support you too.

In my psychiatry practice I have heard of DBT. I treat the symptoms of Bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression and Borderline Personality Disorder. What is the advantage of referring clients to a DBT therapist and Skills Training group?

We believe that clients who learn how to regulate their own emotions show improved medication compliance. Clients with certain complex and difficult to medicate conditions such as Bipolar Disorder and OCD are especially good candidates for DBT skills training. They learn mindfulness skills to help them notice feeling states, and they learn interpersonal effectiveness skills and distress tolerance skills which will assist them in better communication with their doctors about their medication programs. In our practice at SVEC we also find that we can, through the use of exposure therapy protocols, reduce the need for anxiety reducing medications. Through Behavioral Activation and other cognitive behavioral protocols such as Pedasky’s CBT protocol for building resilience, we can help even chronically depressed clients experience acceptance, become less risk averse, and lead productive lives.

For a list of research to date on dialectical behavior therapy click here >>

Feel free to contact Melinda at (408) 780-1150 if you wish to make a referral or consult about a case to determine if a referral to DBT is the appropriate intervention for your client. Please leave a cell number or way of reaching you so that there is less delay in responding to your inquiry.