Our team is constantly striving to improve our program through training, expert consultation, and maintaining familiarity with the latest evidenced-based research.
Dr. Marsha Linehan developed DBT in the late 1980s and devoted her life to its continued development. Our team at SoCal DBT believes that successful patient outcomes begin with a strong adherence to this modality.
Choosing a DBT Provider
Finding an adherent DBT provider can be challenging and confusing. Almost any therapist can buy Dr. Linehan’s textbook and then say they provide DBT. “DBT-informed therapy” is not the same as a comprehensive DBT program and it’s important to know the difference (more on that later). If you’re looking for a DBT therapist, there are fundamental things a therapist has to offer to be considered comprehensive and adherent to the DBT model.
Comprehensive DBT must include these four modes of treatment:
- Weekly DBT skills groups
- Weekly individual sessions with your DBT therapist
- DBT skills coaching (access to your therapist outside of session to apply skills)
- DBT Consultation Team (your therapist consults with their DBT team weekly, this is called “therapy for the therapist” and prevents therapist burnout as well as holding therapists accountable to fidelity to Linehan’s model.)
We’ve created a list of helpful questions to ask your prospective therapist:
• Are you foundationally or intensively trained through Marsha Linehan’s Behavioral Tech, and if not, where did you train?
It is important to determine how much training your DBT provider has. Many trainings do not provide one with the knowledge to apply DBT in a clinical setting. (Therapists cannot learn DBT in a weekend or a one day training, so if someone tells you they trained somewhere else, look it up!). Remember, therapists can learn DBT in a comprehensive treatment center or program, they don’t have to train through BTech. In our opinion, Behavioral Tech is the gold standard and has yielded the best training outcomes.
• Do you offer 24/7 skills coaching?
• Do you have a DBT consult team that meets each week to discuss cases and fidelity to the DBT model?
• Do you have clients fill out a daily diary card?
• Do you do behavioral chain analyses in sessions?
• Do you offer skills groups?
• Are your skills groups run by two leaders, and do they follow Marsha Linehan’s 26 week syllabus?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, then the provider you are speaking with is very likely not providing comprehensive DBT.
At SoCal DBT, every clinician is either intensively or foundationally trained through Behavioral Tech.
Every clinician is either certified through the DBT Linehan Board of Certification or is in the process of becoming certified. All of our skills groups are run by two leaders and follow Linehan’s syllabus. All of our clinicians offer 24/7 coaching to comprehensive DBT clients. Our consult team meets each week on Tuesdays, and we also have a DBT expert consultant advise us monthly on our cases and adherence to the model. All of our comprehensive clients fill out a daily diary card, and we structure our sessions around the diary card, providing behavioral chain analyses as needed.
What is DBT-Informed Therapy?
With the growing research and awareness of the efficacy of DBT, many therapists are excited to introduce it into their practice. However, if they are not offering all four components of DBT (mentioned above) they are doing DBT-informed therapy – not comprehensive DBT. For example, skills coaching may not be offered, skills classes may not be included, or the therapist is just weaving skills into a regular talk therapy session. To date, there has been no research that suggests DBT-informed is as effective as comprehensive DBT, though this type of therapy could be beneficial to certain patients.
According to Dr. Linehan, DBT-Informed doesn’t exist. And yet, many providers will say they are “doing DBT” when they are really providing “DBT-informed therapy.” If you or someone you love is being referred to DBT, it is important to clarify what the provider is offering so that you get the kind of treatment you are expecting, and the results you are hoping for. DBT is intended to treat some vulnerable populations, and as such, the training and efficacy of the therapist you choose is very important.
Why Comprehensive DBT and Certification through the DBT Linehan Board of Certification Matters
Being in a comprehensive, adherent DBT program is important because all of the studies showing DBT to be effective are based on Dr. Linehan’s comprehensive model. The patients observed were in skills class, individual DBT therapy, had access to 24/7 coaching, and their therapist was on a DBT team. Research shows that if any one of these components is missing, DBT is not as effective.
Certification through the DBT-Linehan Board of Certification ensures that your therapist has reached the highest achievement of clinical application of DBT. Per the DBT Linehan Board of certification, “certification is different from a certificate in that a certificate is attesting to accomplishing the completion of some educational or training effort with no assessment of what was retained or available to put into practice. Certification is a much more involved assessment to demonstrate the application of knowledge to the performance and delivery of the treatment. It requires more than an attestation statement. It is a valuable reassurance to you and to the public that other knowledgeable experts in the field who see you perform the relevant tasks successfully have assessed you.” Clinicians that agree to become certified undergo a rigorous process that includes passing a test measuring proficiency in DBT, and having videotaped sessions coded for adherence. Only after passing these hurdles may one call themselves a certified DBT clinician, and seeing a certified clinician can provide patients and loved ones of patients reassurance that the clinician is proficient in DBT and providing an excellent standard of care.
At SoCal DBT, we support our fellow Los Angeles comprehensive DBT providers. If treatment with us isn’t the right fit, we highly recommend contacting the following DBT providers, who we trust and know are providing comprehensive DBT:
Adult Program (ages 18+):
Offering DBT-C, a comprehensive DBT program for adults.
Adolescent Program (ages 13-17):
We help adolescents feeling overwhelmed by their emotions and struggling to cope with the world around them.
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