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Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Helping clients create a life worth living.

The Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Program at Hutchinson Health Mental Health Clinic is designed for people who have experienced some or all of the following difficulties over a  significant period of time:

  • Difficulty managing emotions
  • Self-injurious behavior
  • Frequent suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Frequent emergency room visits or hospitalizations
  • Long-standing difficulties in interpersonal relationships

We Believe DBT Members:

  • Are doing the best they can
  • Want to improve
  • Must learn a range of new behaviors
  • Have not caused all their own problems, but must solve them anyway
  • Need to do better, try harder, motivate to change
  • Have lives that are pretty unbearable

DBT Biosocial Theory

DBT was developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan after much research, study, and clinical work with individuals who experience suicidal thinking, impulsive or self-injurious behaviors, ongoing relationship difficulty, and difficulty regulating mood. DBT is based on a theory that these individuals have often developed these life responses due to a combination of the following factors:

Biological Emotional Vulnerability

  • High sensitivity to emotions and intense response to emotional triggers.
  • Slow return to calm once emotions have escalated.

Growing Up in an Invalidating Environment

  • An environment in which a child’s emotional needs were either ignored or responded to with disregarding, inappropriate, or extreme reactions.
  • Communication about emotional experiences were pervasively rejected as invalid.
  • The ease of problem solving and meeting goals were oversimplified.
  • An invalidating environment may have included such extreme forms of invalidation as physical, verbal, or sexual abuse.

Program Goals

group-therapyThe goal of the DBT Program is to help clients create a life worth living. The DBT Program aims to balance supportive validation of the client’s current difficulties while, at the same time, focuses on helping the client change through introduction of new skills and mastery of them. We also offer an adolescent age specific DBT Skills Group, which is a group therapy for ages 13-18.

Program Guidelines/Rules

  • Each client must agree to work with their individual DBT therapist and skills group for a period of six months. Clients who quit one part of the program are out of the entire program.
  • Clients who miss four weeks in a row of scheduled skills training sessions are out of the program.
  • Attendance rules for other aspects of the program will be discussed individually with the therapist.
  • Clients are not to come to sessions under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Clients must be willing to commit to staying alive and decreasing self-injurious behavior.
  • Clients must agree to sign releases among all care providers.

Program Components

  • Skills training groups are held weekly for two hours. Skills Trainers may be called for coaching outside of the skills training group. Clients are expected to call Skills Trainers if they must miss a group.
  • Individual therapy is scheduled weekly or every other week as determined by the therapist.
  • The treatment team will meet weekly for consultation regarding program participants.

Referral to the DBT Program

If interested in a referral to the DBT Program, please discuss this with your Mental Health provider. Clients participating in the program must have an individual therapist who has had DBT training and who is willing to participate in weekly DBT consultation groups at our location. This allows for coordination of care for program participants.