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Description: This workshop introduces methods for clinicians to use DBT to increase their antiracism competencies, including practical applications of the DBT technology to target one’s own racist attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors in the context of therapy. The emphasis in DBT on building life quality and changing behaviors amid difficult circumstances (even when it is not one’s fault) suggests ways to conceptualize and contend with individual privilege, racism, and systemic injustice. While studies have explored the use of DBT with marginalized populations, including Latinas, LGBTQ youth, and incarcerated young men, the strong empirical basis for DBT relies primarily on samples comprised predominantly of White individuals. DBT highlights the importance of context, including the effects of invalidating environments that interfere with skillfulness and the benefits of skillful practice. Drawing from critical race psychology, Dr. Pierson explores context minimization errors that occur in DBT practice from not explicitly naming the harmful effects of racism. She offers antiracist adaptations which aim to increase cultural responsiveness in DBT practice, including additional DBT consultation team and therapist agreements. Dr. Pierson also offers practical strategies for implementing these proposed agreements in the consultation team setting.

Learning Objectives:

By end of the workshop, participants will be able to

  1. Identify at least 1 strategy for applying the proposed antiracist DBT agreements to clinical work.
  2. Describe the 7 levels of invalidation and their application within a racist environment.
  3. Devise a coping plan including at least 2 DBT skills for increasing antiracist awareness, knowledge, skills, and advocacy.

Trainer: Ashley Pierson, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist licensed in NY and CT. Her areas of expertise are evidence-based treatments, particularly dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), and forensic psychology. She is currently the Acting Director of DBT Services at Yale-New Haven Psychiatric Hospital, where she is team lead at the DBT Adult Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). Dr. Pierson is the Assistant Director of Yale’s YIELD program (Yale’s Instruction/Investigation/Intervention in Emotional Lability and Dysregulation), a task force dedicated to improving the understanding and treatment of those affected by chronic emotional dysregulation, including Borderline Personality Disorder and other self-destructive coping. Dr. Pierson is currently engaged in research that investigates DBT outcomes in intensive outpatient settings, transdiagnostic features of suicidality and self-injury, and qualitative research that explores themes in DBT patient feedback.


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