DBT is a treatment approach that combines individual therapy and classroom instruction to help people learn to manage and regulate intense emotions and extreme mood swings. DBT helps people reduce impulsivity and/or self-destructive behaviors, and cultivate a meaningful life. The skills and principles taught in DBT improve quality of life, parenting effectiveness, and communication and satisfaction in key relationships for most people.  Although originally designed to address the issues of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), DBT can be helpful to a wide range of people who would like to more effectively regulate their emotional reactions and behaviors, and directly influence and change their Central Nervous System’s responses.

If you would like more detailed information about DBT philosophy, principles and curriculum, please visit the BTech website. Unless otherwise stated, Clearwater teaches the adult curriculum developed by Marsha Linehan, PhD and the adolescent curriculum developed by Alec Miller, PhD. We hold skills classes for Young Adults (post-high school but prior to establishing an independent life structure) using the adult curriculum.  We also hold weekly two-hour Consultation Team Meetings, an essential component of comprehensive DBT treatment as stipulated by Dr. Linehan. All DBT therapists at Clearwater have been intensively trained in DBT through Behavioral Tech, Dr. Linehan’s training organization.  Most have a strong background in mindfulness, and have a personal practice that is part of their professional commitment.

Our Program for Adults

Many of the adults who come to Clearwater requesting DBT have had other therapy experiences prior to joining our program.  In general, DBT is more intensive than individual therapy, but not a substitute for partial day programs.  Most people spend two to four hours a week in DBT treatment at Clearwater.

DBT services for adults at Clearwater include individual therapy, with phone coaching from 7am to 10pm daily.  Skills classes meet once a week for two hours.  Typically, we require a six month commitment to DBT at the beginning of treatment as that is the time needed to teach the entire DBT curriculum.  Most people repeat the skills class twice, although there is a treatment review undertaken after six months to determine whether the treatment is working.  In DBT, services are not continued without some observable progress on treatment goals.

Sometimes a client is committed to a therapist s/he has been working with prior to seeking DBT, and s/he would like to continue to work with that professional and only take a skills class.  We are flexible about this, and will typically work it out as long as the individual therapist is comfortable supporting DBT.

Clearwater also offers DBT informed therapy.  Phone coaching is not provided, and skills classes are not usually indicated for this type of treatment.  However, instruction in skills is integrated into the individual sessions, and some other components of DBT therapy (like diary cards, mindfulness training, and behavioral chaining) are generally utilized in the treatment.  This is often a desirable treatment approach for clients who are having problems tolerating distress without making things worse, and/or modulating their emotions, but are not engaging in dangerous or self-harming behaviors.

Skills Classes currently being offered for Adults are:

  • Tuesdays from 11:00 to 1:00 (with a ten minute break) with Erika Swanson, Ph.D.  Next entry date is 5/1/18 & 6/26/18.  Class size is limited to 12.
  • Wednesdays from 6:00 to 8:00 (with a ten minute break) with Hilary Ferris White, MSW  Next entry dates is 5/2/18 & 6/27/18.  Class size is limited to 12.

Skills classes cost $720 per person for each 8 week segment. Larger classes are held in the classroom at 3803 Broadway, Suite 1, across the street from the main building.  Payment is due at the time of enrollment. For clients seeing a therapist outside of Clearwater, we require a one-time intake appointment with the DBT class instructor. This intake costs $200. Participants are also required to purchase the ‘DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets’ manual. Clearwater sells them for $35 or clients can purchase them on-line. Clearwater does not accept Medi-cal or direct third party payments.  Visa and Mastercard are welcome.

Practical Information

Clearwater is located blocks from Kaiser Permanente in Oakland. It has parking available, is on a major bus line, and is within walking distance of the MacArthur BART station. It is only about a 25 minute drive from Walnut Creek, Danville, and other Tri-Valley communities.

To find out more about costs, appointments and classes, and/or to talk to one of our senior staff about our therapy services, either use the Contact button and email us, or call 510-596-8137 and leave a message. Our Office Manager, Matt Chavez, will get back to you and set up a time for you to talk with a senior clinician about your needs.  We try to respond to inquiries within 48 business hours.

Updated 4/24/18