Re-posted from Cleveland Center for Eating Disorders (CCED) blog archives. CCED and The Emily Program partnered in 2014.
By Drs Lucene Wisniewski and Mark Warren
Over the last 15 years Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) has gone from being virtually unknown to being a term utilized by many treatment programs. DBT is an evidence based therapy, initially designed for Borderline Personality Disorder, and more lately for other diagnoses including eating disorders (Wisniewski, L., Safer, D., & Chen, E.Y., 2007). With its increase in popularity among treatment providers it is important to be clear about what it means to “do DBT” so an individual knows if they’re receiving evidence based care.
Comprehensive DBT treatment, initially described by Marsha Linehan, has four components: Individual therapy, skills group, 7 day week phone consultation availability, and consultation team for therapists known as “therapy for therapists”. Unless all four of these components are present, a program is not providing comprehensive DBT treatment. Additionally, in order for a therapist to be capable of providing DBT, a significant training process is generally required. This training process necessitates a therapist taking a non-judgmental stance, the ability to encourage motivation and commitment with their client, extensive knowledge and understanding of the DBT skills and therapeutic techniques, and the balance of accepting where a client is while moving them towards change.