Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

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At Magnolia Creek, one of the many treatments we utilize is dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), which includes a range of strategies. Learning about it and its essential elements helps prospective clients understand what they can expect during treatment.

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.

Overview of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Odyssey Behavioral Healthcare’s AVP of Clinical Services, Kate Fisch, LCSW, discusses dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) at Magnolia Creek.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Components

Treatment In Stages

At Magnolia Creek, there are four stages of DBT treatment. What happens during each stage depends on each client’s behaviors. There’s not a set time frame for each stage so that each client can progress at their own pace with our therapists providing support during each stage.

  1. In the first stage of DBT, clients often have out-of-control behaviors, are miserable, and may self-harm. Some of them use alcohol or drugs and engage in self-destructive activities. The therapist’s objective is to help them achieve control over their behavior.
  2. Clients may feel as though they live in quiet desperation during the second stage. Although their behavior is under control, they continue to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or similar issues. Therapists aim to treat co-occurring disorders, like PTSD, if it’s part of the client’s diagnoses.
  3. During the third stage of DBT, clients learn to live. They define goals for their lives and learn to respect themselves. We also help them achieve happiness and peace.
  4. Not all clients need the fourth stage of treatment. It involves finding a deeper meaning in life through spirituality. It’s only necessary when living with ordinary happiness and unhappiness doesn’t work. During this stage, clients transition from feeling incomplete to leading a life full of freedom and joy.

Skills Training

Learning skills and how to apply them in everyday situations is a vital component of our DBT program. Most of the skills training occur in a class-like group setting, during which clients have homework every week to practice the skills in real life.

  • Mindfulness is an essential skill that teaches clients to accept moments in the present, preventing them from acting or reacting with negative behaviors.
  • Interpersonal effectiveness helps clients in their interactions with others. They learn how to ask for what they want, refuse an offer, and cope with conflicts in healthy, effective ways.
  • Distress tolerance is a DBT skill that teaches clients how to deal with pain. It’s a natural development from mindfulness that helps them tolerate and survive crises.
  • Emotion regulation allows clients to identify and label their emotions and obstacles so that they can apply distress tolerance strategies. They also learn how to increase mindfulness as well as how to react positively to emotional events.
Kate Fisch headshot - Magnolia Creek


Kate Fisch, LCSW

Kate Fisch is the AVP of Clinical Operations for Odyssey’s Eating Disorder Network. With 17 years of clinical leadership and direct client care experience in the eating disorders field, she has a history of innovation, clinical training, and resource development in a variety of eating disorder treatment settings supporting families, clients, and clinicians.

If you’d like to learn more about DBT or our other treatment offerings, our caring staff is ready to help. Call us or fill out the form to get started today.

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