What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?



Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a type of therapy that teaches new skills in Mindfulness, Distress Tolerance, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation, and Walking the Middle Path. 

DBT was developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan, PhD to originally treat people with intense emotional swings, chaotic interpersonal relationships, impulsiveness, and suicidal / self-harm behaviors. It is based on the biosocial theory that problems develop from an interaction between biological factors and environmental factors and on the idea that opposites can coexist and be synthesized. The ultimate goal is to live a life worth living in which the person feels connection to others and the world. The DBT therapist balances empathy and warm acceptance with a focus on teaching you ways to change behaviors that are not effective. DBT is now also being used successfully for those with anxiety, PTSD, depression, eating disorders, difficulties managing emotions, and managing stress.

DBT is backed by significant research that shows it is an effective therapy with techniques that work. Those in DBT typically have decreased use of emergency room and crisis services, and decreased rates of suicidal gestures.


A comprehensive DBT program consists of weekly individual sessions with between-session phone coaching and a weekly skills training class. (Sometimes referred to as a DBT group.) Once behaviors are able to be managed by the person in treatment, other stages of treatment may include expressing emotions more effectively, building a Life Worth Living, and developing satisfying connections to others and the world. Treatment can include targeted treatment for PTSD symptoms, advanced Mindfulness instruction, or focus on anger management strategies. Also included is education and support for family members. Partners, parents, significant others of those in our program are highly encouraged to also learn the skills and receive support and education on how to reinforce effective behaviors at home. A Comprehensive DBT program also means that your therapist will be meeting at least once per week with other Transformation Behavioral Health DBT therapists to coordinate your care. 

Our Linehan Board of Certification seal indicates that we are committed to providing a DBT program that is adherent to the model of care that is backed by significant research. Our program director has met national standards of training, testing, and competency. Our program director makes sure that the dynamic DBT team provides you with the highest level of DBT treatment.


Currently, our Woodstock office has DBT classes for adults on Mondays at 2:00 PM and Thursdays at 6:30 PM and for teens on Mondays at 5:00 PM.  Our Poplar Grove office has DBT classes on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 6:00 PM. These are part of our DBT program. You and your Transformation DBT therapist will decide when you are ready to start the class.

If you are interested in participating in our DBT program, call us and we will schedule an intake appointment to discuss the most effective treatment options for you.