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Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a treatment designed specifically for individuals with self-harm behaviors, such as self-cutting, suicide thoughts, urges to suicide, and suicide attempts. Come learn about a comprehensive model for working effectively with clients who present in overwhelming distress – and in a way that supports client and therapist alike.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based treatment that brings together cognitive-behavioral strategies and acceptance-validation strategies to help individuals with intense emotional suffering and dysfunctional behaviors make radical changes toward a “life worth living.” DBT, originally developed to treat chronically suicidal individuals suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder, has been found to be effective in reducing suicidal behavior, psychiatric hospitalization, and treatment dropout, as well as in treating substance abuse, disordered eating, anger, depression, anxiety, and interpersonal difficulties. DBT assumes that people are doing the best that they can, but either are lacking the skills or are influenced by positive or negative reinforcement that interfere with functioning. As a comprehensive treatment, DBT can:

  • Decrease the frequency and severity of self-destructive behaviors.
  • Increase the motivation to change by providing positive reinforcement.
  • Teach new “coping skills” that generalize to a person’s natural environment.
  • Provide a treatment environment that emphasizes the strengths of both individuals and their treatments.
  • Enhance the therapist’s motivation and ability to treat his/her clients effectively.

The approach includes a well-articulated theory, protocol, and strategies that allow for genuine and deliberate therapeutic collaboration. It also includes a specific psycho-educational component, typically taught in group format and reinforced in individual therapy, that allows clients to learn and apply adaptive skills in their lives. For more information on DBT, including references on DBT, visit Marsha Linehan’s Behavioral Tech.  You can see recommended books on DBT on the TARA website.

Dr. Kristi Webb provides an introduction to Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. This includes the theoretical foundations of DBT, the bio-social theory of emotional dysregulation, and the stages, goals, and strategies of DBT treatment. Weaving together didactic, experiential exercises, and case material, Dr. Webb will elucidate the process of working “dialectically” through the synthesis of acceptance strategies (mindfulness and validation) with key behavioral strategies (contingency management, skills training, exposure, and cognitive modification) that underpin this model. Participants will also become familiar with diary cards, behavior chain analysis, skills coaching phone calls, and the role of consultation teams in supporting this approach.

 Learning Objectives. By the end of this workshop, participants will be able to

  1. Articulate the bio-social theory of Borderline Personality Disorder development
  2. Explain at least one validation (acceptance) strategy
  3. Explain at least one dialectical (change) strategy
  4. Understand the five components of the DBT protocol and how they work together for the benefit of the therapeutic dyad


Kristi Webb, PsyD., is a licensed psychologist in private practice who specializes in depression, anxiety, and trauma and its sequelae, including substance abuse, dissociation, and self-harming behaviors. She has had advanced training in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and has been working as a DBT therapist with individual clients and co-leading weekly skills groups for 15 years.  She is also an Archetypal Pattern Analyst. Prior to working in private practice, Dr. Webb worked in a variety of treatment settings, including inpatient psychiatry, psychiatric emergency services, community mental health, substance abuse treatment, eating disorders day treatment, and a Veterans’ Administration Hospital. She taught psychology for several years in Vermont, New Hampshire, and North Carolina, and is a frequent presenter in on mental health topics. She is recognized by the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology and is a member of the North Carolina Psychology Association and active on its Colleague Assistance Committee.




Slides|| printable Handouts|| diary card || behavior chain analysis || states of mind tracking sheet  || resource list

Clinical Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work

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