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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 Emotion Regulation

For clients who struggle with regulating their emotions and intense relationships, we offer a specialized Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) community. We offer DBT as an intensive, specialized program for clients for whom DBT is indicated, including those with a primary diagnosis of a mood or thought disorder along with a co-occurring borderline personality disorder diagnosis. 

Clients who participate in our intensive DBT 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 "normal" frustrations or mildly stressful situations. Many of our DBT clients have tried other models of therapy unsuccessfully. 

Continuum of Care & Services

DBT is offered as a specialized community in our residential treatment and day treatment programs. Clients complete a 90-day DBT curriculum. We also offer DBT skill-based groups for all of our residential and day treatment clients. DBT teaches useful strategies and skills that can complement other therapeutic approaches.

Skyland Trail also offers an Outpatient DBT program including DBT therapy and skills training groups for clients as well as family members and friends. The outpatient program may be an appropriate next step for clients stepping down from residential or day treatment. However, the outpatient program also is open to clients and families with no prior relationship with Skyland Trail.

Listen: About Our DBT Program

DBT Program with Catherine Moon

DBT Primary Counselor Catherine Moon, LMSW, explains the DBT Program at Skyland Trail.
Listen >

What is DBT?

Skyland Trail applies a system-wide DBT approach to a continuum of care from residential to day treatment to intensive outpatient programs. Our around-the-clock, certified DBT treatment team is trained in coaching DBT skills and understands how to support recovery for our DBT clients.

Our DBT Recovery Community provides a validating and safe environment for clients to learn coping skills to manage the stress that they encounter in life. Skills are taught in four modules:

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

Through one-on-one and group therapy sessions, DBT clients learn to be aware of what they are thinking and feeling in the moment. Instead of becoming overwhelmed and reacting with intense or desperate behavior, clients learn to recognize their specific emotions and respond with healthy strategies to maintain control and feel better. 

Practice is key. Clients practice using their new skills in our adjunctive therapy groups and in "real world" situations as they gradually take on greater daily responsibilities and move toward independent living.

On Our Blog: Expert Insight

Doughnuts and the Beach: The Importance of DBT
"Dialectics can open a new way of seeing the world and provide relief to patients who historically saw only one option in difficult situations," says Dr. Ray Kotwicki, Skyland Trail Chief Medical Officer.  Read article >

Cutting and Self-Harm
"Individuals who cut themselves or engage in other self-injurious behaviors often are dealing with emotional pain or confusion that they do not know how to process in any other way," says Dr. Ray Kotwicki, Skyland Trail Chief Medical Officer.  Read article >

An Interview with DBT Creator Marsha Linehan, PhD
"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.  Read article >

Results of DBT Treatment

Learning healthy coping and interpersonal skills after years of relying on maladaptive behaviors to handle stress is challenging and difficult work. But with a new set of skills as a resource, our clients can benefit more fully from less intensive, ongoing therapy and supportive social relationships.

After leaving Skyland Trail, our graduates often transition to weekly therapy with an outpatient psychotherapist who can continue to help them manage stress appropriately, build meaningful relationships and achieve their goals. Dr. Marsha Linehan, who developed DBT, described the goal of dialectical behavior therapy as creating "a life worth living."

On Our Blog: Recovery is Possible

"Early in life, I decided I would give the people what they want. I would smile, dance and keep them laughing. That approach to life and relationships led me to the very thing I was trying to avoid."
Read Aina's Story >

"For the first time in my 25+ years of living with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder traits, I began to learn practical coping skills for handling extreme sensitivity, mood swings, and how to survive – a word used often in DBT – emotionally difficult or painful circumstances and events without hurting myself or those around me."
Read Shelley's Story >

Watch Video: Andrea's Journey

"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 Video >