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Dialectical Behavior Therapy

DBT for Adults  |  DBT for College Aged Students
 |  DBT for Friends and Families



Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a treatment developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan.  Originally, DBT was created to help people who were suicidal and struggling with self-harm urges. DBT is especially helpful for individuals who have difficulty regulating or dealing with their emotions. Focused on validating the difficulties of life’s struggles, the apparent difficulty with conflicting and intense emotions, and the desire to make important changes, DBT is a highly practical and direct form of therapy. Rather than only focusing on overcoming misery, DBT also emphasizes working on creating a life you want to live. After years of research, DBT is considered to be an empirically supported treatment for individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and is also being used to treat individuals who struggle with emotions but who do not meet criteria for BPD. Recently, DBT has been modified to treat individuals who struggle with a range of psychological problems including substance abuse and eating disorders. 

The Friends and Family Individual DBT Skills Sessions at AICT:

These individual sessions are designed to provide education and support for the loved ones of individuals who currently struggle with intense emotional and behavioral difficulties and who may have a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD). Loved ones with these difficulties may experience symptoms such as emotional dysregulation, cognitive dysregulation, interpersonal dysregulation, and impulsivity. The sessions aim to help the friends and families of these individuals by teaching them how to improve their own skills in the service of learning how to better cope with the turmoil that is often associated with the aforementioned problems.


Individual Sessions may include:

  • Family members (e.g. parents/step-parents, siblings/step-siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles)
  • Partners (e.g. spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends)
  • Friends (e.g. best friends, roommates, close colleagues)

These sessions help friends and family to improve their coping abilities by teaching members the same DBT skills that their loved ones learn and use. Not only does this allow individuals to learn “the language” of DBT, which can facilitate a better understanding of how loved ones are applying these skills to their own struggles, but the skills themselves can be helpful for anyone. Thus, learning the DBT skills can also help individuals to navigate their relationships with loved ones with emotional and behavioral struggles more skillfully. Individuals may also find that they are able to apply the skills they learn in this group to other areas of their lives.


Is This Treatment Right For You?

If you answer YES to one or more of the questions below, then the Individual Friends and Family Sessions may be right for you.

  • Are  you constantly worried about a loved one?
  • Are you fearful, hurt, angry or burnt out because you are trying to cope with their behavior?
  • Do you feel pushed past your own limits? 
  • Do you constantly feel like you don't know what to do or how to help him/her?

In these sessions you will learn: 

  • The biosocial model of BPD
  • Education about DBT and how it works
  • Mindfulness skills
  • Interpersonal effectiveness skills
  • Distress Tolerance Skills
  • Emotion Regulation Skills
  • Validation skills
  • How to set realistic expectations for loved ones and yourself
  • How to more effectively manage the family environment and crises that may arise
  • How to observe your own limits

The Friends and Family DBT Skills Sessions consists of four modules (Core Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Distress Tolerance and Emotion Regulation) and it is structured like a course. However, individuals are not required to participate in all modules. Scheduling is flexible and Skills sessions can be repeated. 

Sessions are for 45 minutes and will consist of (listed sequentially): a brief mindfulness practice, new skills presentation, and homework review. Homework is assigned in order to facilitate the ability to learn and generalize incorporating skills into one’s life. 

Please note: These skill sessions are intended for individuals who have loved ones with BPD or BPD-like symptoms/problems. Individuals who are currently struggling with BPD or more intense behavioral and/or emotional problems themselves will not be best served by this group. Should it become apparent that an individual’s needs exceed that which can be adequately addressed by the Friends and Family group, the individual will be referred to AICT’s standard DBT Skills group. 

To learn more about getting an evaluation or treatment options, please call us at 212 308 2440.


All Content on this website is copyrighted © Robert L. Leahy, PhD. All Rights Reserved.

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