Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) was developed at the University of Washington by Marsha M. Linehan, Ph.D. DBT was originally developed to treat interpersonal chaos, intense emotional swings, impulsiveness, confusion about the self (identity), and suicidal behavior. DBT is based on a bio-social theory that states that problems develop from the interaction of biological factors (physiological makeup) and environmental factors (learning history), which together create difficulty managing emotions.

Cal Lutheran's DBT training program was developed by Dr. Jamie Bedics and in collaboration with the developer of DBT, Dr. Marsha Linehan, at the University of Washington. Doctoral students at Cal Lutheran follow a course curriculum that closely mirrors the DBT training program at the University of Washington.


Behavioral Clinical Methods: Fundamental Change Strategies (3 Units)

The purpose of this course is to provide students with basic skills required for competent practice of cognitive and behavioral therapies. Topics include behavioral and skills training, cognitive restructuring, contingency management, and exposure-based procedures. Course readings are drawn from a variety of sources including journal articles, textbooks, and treatment manuals. Course requirements include weekly practical exercises and a science-informed case presentation focusing on the case formulation, a description of a treatment, and an evidence-based assessment of outcome.

Introduction to Dialectical Behavior Therapy (3 Units)

Students will gain a familiarity with the clinical application of Dialectical Behavior Therapy and research treatment supporting its efficacy and effectiveness. In this introductory course students will learn the structure of DBT (during individual sessions, team consultation, et), gain exposure to core DBT strategies and principles (e.g., behavioral methods, validation), become proficient in case conceptualization within DBT, and learn dialectical philosophy as applied to balancing strategies of acceptance and change. Additional topics covered include assessment of suicidality, commitment strategies, communication strategies (e.g., irreverence), and change strategies based on behavioral principles. Each weekly lecture will include instruction and demonstration of core techniques. Course requirements include reading the two DBT treatment manuals as well as the current empirical literature updating elements of the treatment. Students will conduct role-plays, watch videos, and take a final exam.

Suicide and Crisis Management (3 Units)

Students in this course will learn the risk factors predictive of suicide, gain familiarity with research examining the function of suicide, become proficient in conducting suicide risk assessments, learn principles of crisis intervention, and become proficient at conducting crisis interventions in a variety of clinical scenarios. Course requirements include weekly readings, class participation, and role-plays in responding to suicidal crisis calls where students are required to respond based on interventions taught in class.

Mindfulness Seminar (3 credits)

This is a weekly one-hour seminar conducted over two semesters. Students can either attend this seminar or earn equivalent hours in other mindfulness training workshops taught be recognized mindfulness teachers. The seminar integrates didactic teaching and experiential practice. At least half of each session is devoted to applying mindfulness techniques such as participating in sitting meditation, observing breath, and mindful walking. Didactics emphasize the integration of mindfulness practice into the therapy context with a special emphasis on the Zen tradition underlying DBT.

DBT Clinical Practicum

Doctoral students in the Psy.D. program are eligible to apply for participation in the DBT practicum. Students admitted to the DBT practicum must complete, or be in the process of completing, the above coursework. Student participants will provide weekly skills training, provide telephone coaching as needed, attend weekly DBT consultation team, attend weekly supervision, and complete all necessary paperwork. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in ongoing research examining the effectiveness of the treatment.