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The Relevance of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
to Trauma Work | Flyer

When: Thursday/Friday, January 18 & 19, 2018, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm (both days)  rescheduled to Thurs/Friday, Feb 15 & 16, 2018, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm (both days) due to snow

Where: UNC Chapel Hill School of Social Work Auditorium

Continuing Education: 12 hours

Fees(includes teaching materials and lunch both days)
General: $345  | Early bird price  $245 register before Dec.18

Current UNC School of Social Work students, staff, academic & field faculty:
General: $245 after Dec 18 | Early bird price $145 register before Dec.18

**Additional $6 fee for psychologists who want category A credit from NCPA.
**Scholarships and further discounts available to eligible individuals – contact Carol Ann Hincy at or 919-962-6540.


Individuals who have experienced trauma, particularly complex trauma, often present with a wide range of difficulties that do not fit neatly into standard or uniform case formulations. Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) offers an effective transdiagnostic treatment for the sequelae of trauma, that can include dysregulation of emotions, cognitions, behavior, interpersonal and self. The power of DBT comes from its well-articulated theory, protocol, and multiple strategies that allow for thoughtful and genuine therapeutic collaboration, and its simultaneous embrace of acceptance-validation and cognitive-behavioral change strategies. DBT has been found to be effective in helping people who experience intense emotional suffering and maladaptive coping skills to “create a life that’s worth living.”

In this workshop, Debbie and Robin will introduce the foundational knowledge of DBT and demonstrate how to apply DBT to work with a heterogeneous and complex population of individuals, including individuals with complex trauma histories. They will review empirical support for DBT, introduce core principles of DBT treatment, the assumptions and agreements about therapy in DBT, the structure of DBT treatment, explain the transactional biosocial processes that underlie pervasive dysregulation, and the skills that clients learn in DBT. They will also focus specifically on trauma treatment fits within the parameters and stages of DBT, including information on cutting edge interventions. Participants will learn through a combination of didactic material, role-plays, and experiential activities for a full-bodied understanding of applying DBT in their therapeutic practice.

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 “coping skills” that generalize to a person’s environment.
  • Provide a treatment environment that emphasizes the strengths of both individuals and their treatments.
  • Enhance the therapist’s motivation and ability to treat clients effectively.

Handouts: posted below and provided in person @ workshop


Robin Sansing, LCSW is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with more than ten years of counseling, teaching and coaching experience. She is a faculty member at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in the School of Social Work, where she co-taught a course on DBT with Debbie Barrett, for which they received a teaching award. In addition, Robin has a small thriving psychotherapy practice where she utilizes DBT with groups and individuals. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Interpersonal Studies from Prescott College, and a Master’s degree in Social Work from North Carolina State University.  In her leisure time, Robin enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, cycling, practicing yoga and meditation, and taking her dog, Kira, for long walks.

Deborah  (Debbie) Barrett, PhD, LCSW is a Clinical Associate Professor in the School of Social Work and the Department of Medicine in Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is committed to increasing access to mental health services and helped found the Pro Bono Counseling Network, currently housed at Freedom House, where she continues to serve on its advisory board. In 2005, she founded the UNC Clinical Lecture Series at the School of Social Work, and has been growing the series to meet changing demands. From 2006 to 2016, Debbie co-facilitated two weekly, low-fee DBT groups in private practice (including four years with Robin), and currently facilitates “dialectical pain management” groups at UNC Psychiatry outpatient practice, which she applies DBT principles in a novel intervention focused on physical pain and associated distress. She is passionate about improving life for individuals suffering with chronic pain, and thus provides trainings whenever asked and penned a self-help book on pain management.

Learning Objectives:

At the completion of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify and categorize 5 areas of dysregulation targeted in DBT.
  2. List and order hierarchically the 4 central targets of DBT practice.
  3. Name at least 3 assumptions about patients and DBT therapy.
  4. Define the 2 components of bio-social theory and explain transaction that generates phobia of natural experience.
  5. Identify mindfulness and explain at least 1 way that mindfulness is central to DBT.
  6. Describe the concept of dialectics as it related to DBT.
  7. Explain at least 1 goal of the Core Mindfulness module and teach one of its skills.
  8. Explain at least 1 goal of the Interpersonal Effectiveness module and teach one of its skills.
  9. Explain at least 1 goal of the Emotion Regulation module and teach one of its skills.
  10. Explain at least 1 goal of the Distress Tolerance module and teach one of its skills.
  11. Articulate at least 2 aspects of the individual therapist vis a vis the skills group.
  12. Identify patient populations that are most appropriate for DBT treatment.
  13. Explain at least 1 principle for working directly with trauma as a DBT therapist.


Workshop will begin promptly at 9 am, and will include two 15-minute breaks, and 1 hour lunch break. (Participants can sign up for catered lunch buffet ($10) or arrange for their own lunch foods.)

Thursday – Day 1

  • 8:30-9:00 – registration, sign-in, coffee
  • 9:00- 10:15 – DBT and Trauma: Introduction to history, theory, and practice
  • 0:15 – 10:30 – break
  • 10:30 – 12:00 –  Nuts and bolts: How DBT works (framework, stages, assumptions, session structure, components)
  • 12:00-1:00 – lunch by Vimala’s CurryBlossom Cafe
  • 1:00 – 2:30 –  DBT in action (with didactic role play of early phases)
  • 2:30 – 2:45 – break
  • 2:45 – 4:30 – Strategies during therapy 
    • Diary card and behavioral chain analysis (with role play)
    • Acceptance, dialectic, and change strategies

Friday – Day 2

  • 8:30-9:00 – coffee and sign-in
  • 9:00- 10:15 –  Case conceptualization, secondary targets
  • 10:15 – 10:30 – break
  • 10:30 – 12:00 –  Q & A and case consultation
  • 12:00-1:00 – lunch by Vimala’s CurryBlossom Cafe
  • 1:00 – 2:30 –  DBT Skills: Core Mindfulness and Interpersonal Effectiveness
  • 2:30 – 2:45 – break
  • 2:45 – 4:00 – DBT Skills: Emotion Regulation and Distress Tolerance
  • 4:00 – 4:30 – Summation, discussion, and resources


  • Harned, M., Korslund, K., & Linehan, M. (2014). A pilot randomized controlled trial of dialectical behavior therapy with and without the dialectical behavior therapy prolonged exposure protocol for suicidal and self-injuring women with borderline personality disorder and PTSD. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 55(1), 7-17.
  • Koerner, K. (2012). Doing Dialectical Behavior Therapy. New York: Guilford Press.
  • Linehan, M. M. (2014). DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets. New York: Guildford Press.
  • Linehan, M. M. (1993). Cognitive Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder. New York: Guilford Press.
  • Ritschel, L. A., Lim, N. E., & Stewart, L. M. (2015). Transdiagnostic applications of DBT for adolescents and adults. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 69(2), 111-128.
  • Wagner, A. W., Rizvi, S. L., & Harned, M. S. (2007). Applications of dialectical behavior therapy to the treatment of complex trauma‐related problems: When one case formulation does not fit all. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 20(4), 391-400.
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