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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

Residential DBT Program and DBT Day Treatment

About our 90-day intensive dialectical behavior therapy program

As one of the best dialectical behavior therapy treatment centers, Skyland Trail offers a 90-day intensive DBT program that begins with residential treatment or day treatment. After about 60 days in residential treatment, DBT clients then step down to our day treatment and intensive outpatient programs as their skills improve. After completing the 90-day program, many graduates continue to learn and build skills through our outpatient DBT program which offers DBT skills groups.

Residential Treatment Program



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. Through one-on-one and group therapy sessions, DBT clients learn to be aware of what they are thinking and feeling in the moment. 

Our intensively trained DBT treatment team meets weekly to discuss complex client cases and to develop comprehensive strategies to help clients progress. Across the organization, our multidisciplinary treatment team, including residential staff members, receive ongoing training on how to support DBT clients.

We adhere to the DBT model created by Marsha Linnehan and Behavioral Tech, with some adaptions for residential program delivery. As part of the DBT model, clients have access to DBT phone coaching 24/7.

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. Mindfulness of the moment, effectively managing personal relationships and learning to tolerate unexpected events are just a few ways DBT is helpful for clients struggling with BPD or emotional dysregulation.

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

Recovery is Possible: Aina's Story

"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."

Aina's Story

Building a foundation of DBT skills for independent living and continued therapeutic work

The 90-day residential DBT treatment program at Skyland Trail addresses stage 1 of DBT therapy, which focuses on attaining foundational skills and capacity to manage suicidal behaviors, therapy-interfering behaviors, major quality-of-life-interfering behaviors, and deficits in behavioral skills. Dr. Marsha Linehan, creator of DBT, describes the goal of stage 1 as, "moving from being out of control of one's behavior to being in control."

Although many clients in our DBT program are learning to cope with trauma, the focus of stage 1 of DBT therapy does not involve working directly on post-traumatic stress. Instead, the goal of DBT treatment at Skyland Trail is to help clients develop practical strategies to cope with intense emotions so that they can prevent repeat hospitalizations, practice healthy coping skills, and build trusting relationships with therapists. 

Once they have learned the shared language and framework of DBT, and can use DBT skills to effectively participate in therapy and supportive social relationships, clients are prepared to continue therapeutic work on an outpatient basis in the community while living independently.

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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 dialectical behavior program 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."

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.  

new perspective with DBT