Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Looking to strengthen your use of the DBT skills you learned in a group? Finding that you are struggling to incorporate the skills into your life in a lasting way?

Portland Psychotherapy Clinic offers individual DBT aftercare. DBT aftercare is specifically designed for clients who have successfully completed a full-fidelity DBT program and are looking to expand their skills. If you are interested in individual DBT aftercare, please contact us.

Our practitioners also provide DBT-informed therapy, which means that DBT skills are incorporated into therapy. DBT-informed therapy is not a substitute for the full fidelity DBT programs and as a result, engaging in this type of therapy will not familiarize one with all of the DBT skills.

If you are unfamiliar with DBT, please scroll down to learn more about the basic program. We are more than happy to provide referrals for full fidelity DBT programs, if you have yet to compete one and are interested in learning the skills.

What is DBT?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is  a comprehensive cognitive-behavioral treatment that was originally developed to help chronically suicidal people struggling with an inability to regulate their emotions.  It is a treatment that is particularly effective for people with who meet criteria for a disorder called borderline personality (BPD) and enage in self-harm behaviors, such as self-cutting, suicide thoughts, urges to suicide, and suicide attempts.

DBT is also used for other issues as well, including depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, eating disorders, or alcohol and drug problems.

The original DBT package incorporates four components: individual therapy, skills-training groups, phone coaching, and therapist consultation.  Individual therapy focuses on identifying factors maintaining problem behavior and providing intervention.  Skills-training groups focus on teaching skills to assist in building a life worth living and provides meaningful practice of these skills.  Phone coaching assists clients as they engage in new behaviors in the environment outside of therapy.  Lastly, therapists participate in consultation with other therapists so that they can get support and maintain their effectiveness.

In this original version of DBT, clients attend individual therapy one time per week for about 45 minutes to an hour. They also attend skills groups once per week for two hours. Therapist generally participate in weekly consult and provide time outside of therapy sessions for phone coaching.  The full treatment lasts one year and focuses on learning four sets of skills:

  1. Mindfulness
  2. Interpersonal Effectiveness
  3. Emotion Regulation
  4. Distress Tolerance.

While this is often a good format for many people, DBT can also be delivered in a more flexible manner with more skills groups, with individual therapy alone, and with other lengths of treatment. Our goal at Portland Psychotherapy is to tailor treatment to you so that you get what you need to build a better life. We’ll work with you to deliver a treatment that is effective and if we aren’t the right place, we’ll tell you and refer you to someplace we think will be a better fit.

I don’t like groups. Can I just learn the DBT skills in individual therapy?

Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to review all of the DBT skills in individual therapy due to the sheer amount of skills. Full fidelity DBT offers once-per-week groups in which clients are taught the skills in distinct modules. These groups are best thought of as classes, which focus on learning the skills. Because these groups focus on learning skills, there is very little sharing, or processing, of individual problems/circumstances; processing of individual experiences happens in individual therapy. Weekly individual therapy is required and seeks to assist clients in applying the skills to their own experience. If you are interested in finding a full fidelity DBT program, feel free to contact us using the form below.

Why Not Buy A Workbook?

Self-help books can be a great resource and we can recommend some of our favorites to you.  Consider though if a workbook has led to any long-lasting change in your life.  If so, great! If not, then maybe it’s time to consider getting help from a professional.

Is DBT Effective?

DBT is an “empirically-supported treatment” which means that it has been researched in clinical trials. While the initial research on DBT was focused on highly suicidal people, studies now supports DBT being used for people who binge-eat, teenagers who are depressed and suicidal, and older clients who become depressed again and again.

What the research says is that DBT is effective in reducing suicidal behavior, psychiatric hospitalization, treatment dropout, substance abuse, anger, and interpersonal difficulties.

Why Not Just Use Medication?

Our commitment at Portland Psychotherapy Clinic is to help our clients so that they can live fuller and more meaningful lives. Our commitment is not just to help our clients feel better, we help them to live better.  It’s a personal choice for you to decide if medication alone accomplishes this for you.

What Can I Expect?

The most important goal in DBT is helping clients create “lives worth living.” What makes a life worth living varies from person to person. A life worth living to one person is finishing school, to another it is getting married and having kids.  While these goals will differ, all clients have in common the task of addressing their behaviors that get in the way of these goals and possibly make their lives even worse.

There are four stages of treatment in DBT to address these behaviors:

Stage I: Moving from Being Out of Control of One’s Behavior to Being in Control

Stage II: Moving from Being Emotionally Shut Down to Experiencing Emotions Fully

Stage III: Building an Ordinary Life, Solving Ordinary Life Problems

Stage IV: Moving from Incompleteness to Completeness/Connection

What Makes Us Unique

Portland Psychotherapy is a clinic, research & training center with a unique business model that funds scientific research. This results in a team of therapists who are exceptionally well-trained and knowledgeable about their areas of specialty.