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Calabasas is a city in California. It is a well-known suburb of Los Angeles, located west of the San Fernando Valley and north of the Santa Monica Mountains. Over the past decade, the city of Calabasas has grown in its reputation for luxury as well as for privacy which makes it a hidden gem for residential living for society’s elite, and one of the most desirable destinations in Los Angeles County. It is also home to a plethora of highly qualified mental health clinicians providing an array of therapeutic services, including dialectical behavior therapy. 

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) was developed by psychologist Marsha M. Linehan in the late 1980s as a means to help better treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). It is an evidence-based psychotherapy that is based on principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) but places greater emphasis on the psychosocial aspect of treatment. Psychology Today explains that the “goal of DBT is to transform negative thinking patterns and destructive behaviors into positive outcomes.” DBT remains the gold standard form of treatment for individuals diagnosed with BPD, and according to Behavioral Tech has been found to be effective in treating other mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder, eating disorders (e.g., bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, etc.), trans diagnostic emotion dysregulation, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, and more. 

The Format

Dialectical behavior therapy is conducted in three different therapeutic settings, each with distinct goals. DBT includes weekly individual therapy sessions, weekly DBT skills training group sessions, and as-needed phone coaching. One-on-one therapy sessions provide a client and his or her clinician with the opportunity to co-create behavior plans that incorporate long and short-term goals as well as delve deeper into and process the client’s life journey while also learning skills to improve self-worth, establish self-compassion, acceptance, and a positive self-identity. These individual therapy sessions are empowering and help reinforce applicable social and emotional skills. Phone coaching provides an individual with twenty-four-hour access to support between sessions, should crisis arise.

The weekly DBT group skills training sessions are used to teach and help facilitate fostering skills in the four core areas of DBT also known as the four modules. DBT specifically focuses on providing therapeutic skills in the following four key areas, as provided by the Linehan Institute:

  1. Core Mindfulness: skills focused on improving an individual’s ability to accept and be present in any given moment.
  2. Distress tolerance: skills focused on increasing an individual’s ability to accept, find meaning through, and tolerate distress.
  3. Interpersonal effectiveness: skills focused honing assertive communication methods that enable an individual to engage with others in a way that maintains self-respect and simultaneously strengthens relationships
  4. Emotion regulation: skills focused on helping an individual identify, name, and understand the function of emotions, and increasing one’s ability to regulate emotions. 

After each DBT skills training group session the facilitator will assign homework to the participants to help reinforce the information covered during the session. The entire DBT program takes around six months to complete, as six weeks is allocated to each of the four modules. Longer DBT programs may elect to repeat one or more of the four skills modules. If each of the four modules is repeated it would extend the length of the program to last about twelve months long. 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.