Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a skills-based type of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The primary goals of DBT include helping people regulate their emotions, have more successful interpersonal relationships, increase their distress tolerance, and be more mindful of thoughts, feelings, and their environment.

Though it was designed to treat borderline personality disorder (BPD), DBT is also effective in treating substance abuse as well as a variety of mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.

Clearview is one of the few treatment programs nationwide to use DBT throughout all levels of care and within multiple treatment programs, including Addiction with Co-Occurring Mental Health, Women’s Mental Health, and Outpatient Treatment.

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What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?

Clearview's DBT Expert and Consultant

Dr. Charlie Swenson

Dr. Charlie Swenson

Charlie Swenson, MD, a member of the Clearview team, is a DBT expert clinician, psychiatrist, consultant, and instructor who was personally trained by Marsha Linehan and has been a part of Clearview since 2010. At that time, DBT was still a novel treatment that had been shown to be efficacious at the outpatient level of care; however, it required modifications to be implemented effectively in a residential setting.

Having spent many years working at inpatient facilities, Dr. Swenson was a strong advocate for expanding and adapting DBT into more intensive residential settings. Since 2010, Dr. Swenson has been instrumental in developing Clearview as a renowned comprehensive DBT treatment center, both at the residential and intensive outpatient levels of care.

As one of the most comprehensive DBT treatment facilities in the United States, Dr. Swenson helps hold Clearview accountable to the DBT model while increasing the clinical excellence we provide to our clients. Dr. Swenson provides weekly DBT consultation to our clinicians and specialized DBT skills training and oversight for the Clearview clinical staff to ensure clinical excellence. He has a keen understanding of the acute and complex clinical cases we receive and serves as a primary source of collaboration as we strive to remain current on the most recent research, knowledge, development, and application of DBT skills to best support our clientele and the family members we serve.

How Does DBT Work?

DBT is an evidence-based treatment that combines elements of CBT with the Zen Buddhist methods of meditation and self-awareness. Through individual DBT sessions and DBT skills groups, our clients learn how to incorporate DBT skills into their everyday lives. Our program consists of four stages:

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What Is the Evidence Behind DBT?

Marsha Linehan, PhD, originally developed DBT to help female patients whose suicidal tendencies weren’t addressed with traditional therapies. DBT became a vital part of treatment for borderline personality disorder (BPD), as 75% of those diagnosed with BPD attempt suicide at least once.

In a study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), DBT was twice as successful in reducing suicide attempts (and reducing ER visits by half) among those with BPD compared to other therapies.

Studies have also shown that DBT can significantly reduce anger, depression, self-harm, disordered eating behaviors, and hopelessness. In addition, when used to treat substance abuse, DBT can decrease urges to use, cravings, and physical discomfort from abstaining. Teaching healthier coping skills, DBT helps clients maintain recovery and improve their quality of life.

DBT at Clearview Treatment Programs

Clearview provides comprehensive DBT throughout all levels of care. In our programs for Addiction with Co-Occurring Mental Health, Women’s Mental Health, and Outpatient Treatment, clients participate in individual therapy sessions with a trained therapist and in skills groups to learn and practice DBT skills.

As part of our comprehensive DBT program, clients also have access to phone coaching with a therapist between sessions so that they always feel supported and connected. In addition, our team has weekly consultation meetings to ensure they are providing the best treatment possible.

Our therapists have extensive training in DBT by organizations including Linehan’s training institute, Behavioral Tech. The Clearview team also meets regularly with our DBT consultant, Charles Swenson, who helps keep our program on the cutting edge of developments and helps us continually improve our therapy services.

Support from a dedicated DBT team helps clients stay focused on practicing their newly learned skills and ensures clients are held accountable when it comes to their treatment progress. The DBT team not only helps clients stay on track with their treatment, but it also provides stability and support in their recovery journeys.

With over 20 years of proven experience, Clearview can put you or your loved one on the path to recovery.

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