Psychosocial Skills Training

Psychosocial Skills Training Program (Dialectical Behavior Therapy; DBT)

The Psychosocial skills training program is based on the work of Dr. Marsha Linehan (University of Washington). Dr. Linehan’s Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) model has been instrumental in changing the lives of individuals struggling with Borderline personality Disorder. Since its inception in 1994, DBT has become the gold standard of treatment for these symptoms, and is considered an evidence-based practice. Over the past decade, DBT has been increasingly used with an adolescent population, and has been shown in the research to be beneficial in reducing these symptoms in youth. Leading a team of affiliated professionals, Dr. Robison has adopted the DBT model for both adolescents and adults using Psychosocial Skills Training groups. These groups help clients:

  • Develop an enhanced sense of self
  • Improve communications skills
  • Increase personal awareness
  • Stabilize interpersonal relationships
  • Adopt anger management skills
  • Identify, express and regulate emotions
  • Increase ability to tolerate distress

Dr. Linehan’s DBT model was the first of its kind. The shame and stigma surrounding Borderline Personality Disorder often kept individuals out of treatment, made it difficult for them to find providers who could treat their symptoms, and often led to multiple treatment failures. Dr. Linehan advocated for increased awareness of the pain involved with these symptoms, and the need for tolerance and validation on the part of the therapist. Whether clients have been formally diagnosed with BPD or not, some clients feel they lack the coping skills needed to deal with stressors, or lack the ability to manage their moods. The Psychosocial Skills Training Program addresses personality traits such as:

  • Identity confusion
  • Vulnerability to feelings of abandonment
  • Unresolved or uncontrollable anger
  • Unstable or chaotic interpersonal relationships
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Impulsivity
  • A tendency toward self-destructive behavior

Psychosocial Skills Training Involves 4 Modules
DBT involves four modules, all focused on skill building. The following is a brief description of the content and goals of each module:

Module 1: Core Mindfulness Skills 
This module improves a person’s capacity to focus; to accurately observe one’s self and others; to participate in life with greater awareness; and to adopt a nonjudgmental stance toward one’s self and others. There have been an increasing number of studies about the benefits of mindfulness, including a decrease in identity confusion, diminished feelings of emptiness, and alleviating emotional overwhelm.

Module 2: Distress Tolerance Skills 
Many people tell us that they are frustrated with therapy, and cannot articulate any specific skills they learned in past therapies. This module gives people concrete, practical coping skills for daily living. These skills are intended to replace impulsive, self destructive coping skills, and to temporarily relieve the overwhelming thoughts/feelings that may accompany distressing events.

Module 3: Emotions Regulation Skills 
This module teaches individuals how to observe and describe their emotions, strengthening one’s ability to cope with and manage intense emotions. It also teaches how to process and express painful feelings. Adopting these skills promotes a reduction in both mood swings and excessive or unresolved anger.

Module 4: Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills 
This module helps individuals to set priorities in social interactions. They learn how to assert themselves appropriately, how to say “no” to unhealthy requests, and how to better value self-respect. Improving interpersonal effectiveness skills assists in decreasing one’s vulnerability to abandonment and increases one’s ability to form meaningful, trusting relationships.

Referral to the DBT Program
Our team of professionals are all invested in practicing DBT with competency. Youth and adults come to us by way of this website, a family member’s encouragement, or a referral from a caring professional. To schedule an appointment for yourself or another, click on the link at the bottom of the page. Examples of appropriate referral sources include:

  • Individual therapists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Primary care physicians
  • Managed care providers
  • School counselors and clergy
  • Psychiatric facilities
  • Employee Assistance Programs

Psychosocial Skills Training Program Elements
The success of DBT is dependent upon many components being in place. The following program components are in place for both the adult, and the teen programs:

  • Multimodal Methods: Our DBT groups are part of a comprehensive program that includes individual therapy, group skills training and when appropriate, medication management.
  • Interdisciplinary Team Approach: Each client has a primary individual therapist in addition to a DBT group leader. Individuals who wish to continue with a therapist outside of our practice are welcome to do so. Our professionals consult regularly with internal and external providers to coordinate care.
  • Psychoeducational Groups: Each client deemed appropriate for DBT will be referred to a psychoeducational group. These groups are an essential part of the DBT program, and concentrate on teaching clients the coping skills they need to build a life worth living.
  • Psychiatric Consultation: When appropriate, clients needing medication are encouraged to be evaluated and monitored as often as necessary by an outside psychiatrist until stabilized.
  • Crisis Stabilization: As an integral part of the Psychosocial Skills Training program, crisis stabilization averts unnecessary hospitalization. Telephone consultation is available to assist with de-escalating crises in an outpatient setting.
  • Support for Significant Others: The team understands the importance of a client’s support system, and works to inform and support our client’s loved ones. Psychoeducational groups for significant others are dependent upon on level of demand and are held in either Willow Grove or Lansdale offices.
  • Therapist Consultations: All therapists involved with Psychosocial Skills Training meet regularly to assess progress, monitor treatment results and practice the skills they are teaching. We look for opportunities to host and attend conferences based on the DBT model.
  • Client Advocacy: Our team members are affiliated with several inpatient, partial hospital and drug/alcohol treatment facilities. We are able to offer continuity of care, assist with transitions to and from higher levels of care, and coordinate services with other providers as needed.
  • Extended Care & Transition Planning: Teens and adults who complete the four modules of DBT can continue in the DBT program if they wish. Advanced DBT skills training groups are available to those who need ongoing group support or assistance with life’s transitions.

Contact us to request more information about our teen and young adult psychosocial skills training group.

Download the Adolescent DBT Training Group Flyer here.
Download the Clinicians DBT Training Group Flyer here.

Visit our Contact page to arrange a free meeting about integrating DBT into your program and visit Our Resource Library and Helpful Links pages to read about applying DBT with an adolescent population.