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DBT helped me with my illness because it taught me other ways to express myself. Now, I can express my emotions in different words and I've really expanded my vocabulary so other people know what I am feeling and how they can help me.

– Skyland Trail alumni

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT for borderline personality disorder, self-harm, frequent suicide attempts, and emotion regulation.

We offer specialized, intensive dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) treatment programs for adults for whom DBT is indicated, including those with a borderline personality disorder diagnosis.

Clients who participate in our intensive DBT treatment community often have symptoms that include impulsivity, self-injurious behaviors or frequent suicide attempts. They also often have extreme emotional reactions to what others perceive as "day-to-day" frustrations or mildly stressful situations. Many of our DBT clients have tried other models of therapy unsuccessfully.

About Our 90-Day Intensive DBT Program

Our most intensive level of care is our 90-day intensive program that begins with our DBT residential treatment program or our DBT Day Treatment program. Clients who admit to our residential DBT program may step-down to our nonresidential day treatment and intensive outpatient programs as their skills improve.

Learn More About INTENSIVE DBT Program   →



About Our Outpatient DBT Skills Groups

Skyland Trail also offers a DBT outpatient program, which is open to graduates of our 90-day intensive program as well as adults with no prior relationship with Skyland Trail and families of individuals seeking to support a loved one who is participating in DBT therapy.

Learn More About Outpatient DBT Groups   →


Andrea's Story

"After several hospitalizations, Skyland Trail was my last hope. If I was going to survive, this was going to be the place that did it, because I felt like I had done everything else." Hear Andrea's story of discovering skills, hope, and a better future.

Watch Andrea's Story

What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?

DBT is one of the most researched treatments for borderline personality disorder and diagnoses involving emotional disregulation. It has been shown to be significantly effective in reducing suicidal ideation and self-harming behaviors common to those diagnosed with BPD, as well as improving a client’s ability to resist acting impulsively in stressful situations.

DBT is based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which has been used effectively for many years to treat individuals with mood and anxiety disorders. CBT is not effective for everyone - particularly for people who engage in self-injury, attempt suicide frequently, or struggle with intense emotions. Dr. Marsha Linehan adapted traditional CBT by adding therapeutic work focused on validation, acceptance and dialectics to meet the unique needs of these patients.

Creating a Life Worth Living

The overall goal of DBT is to help clients create a “life worth living.” Clients are encouraged to define what a "life worth living" looks like for them, and it varies from client to client. As a group then, clients work toward addressing problem behaviors that are barriers to accessing that life.

What's the Difference Between CBT and DBT? 

CBT helps clients understand the relationship between their thoughts, feelings and behaviors. While traditional CBT asks clients to change unhealthy thinking patterns and maladaptive behaviors, DBT also validates a client's lived experience and acknowledges the truth in the client's point of view. 

DBT treatment also teaches clients to recognize what they have the power to change and what they must learn to accept. If they must accept the experience of pain, clients learn skills to cope with it. As they practice those skills, clients learn that they can stand the pain and still live a meaningful life.

The "dialectical" part of dialectical behavior therapy helps clients challenge rigid thinking patterns and discover that the "truth" is often more gray than black-and-white. A friend can be late for an appointment AND still respect you. You can make a mistake AND still be a good person. 

DBT Therapy Program at Skyland Trail

Clients participating in DBT therapy receive weekly one-on-one counseling sessions with their primary counselor, participate in skills groups, and have access to 24 phone coaching as needed. Clients also complete homework assignments and are asked to apply DBT skills learned in group to real-life experiences.

DBT skills are taught in four modules: 

  1. Emotion Regulation
  2. Distress Tolerance
  3. Mindfulness
  4. Interpersonal Effectiveness

Interview with DBT Creator Dr. Marsha Linehan

the history of DBT"DBT combines acceptance and change. There is a dialectic tension between accepting reality and changing reality, and you really need to have both of those to go forward," says Marsha Linnehan, creator of DBT.  

Learn About the History of DBT →

Contact Skyland Trail

To learn more about Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) at Skyland Trail, contact us today or call 866-504-4966 to speak to a counselor.

Call 866-504-4966  →