General Information

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 Young Adults 

In our current culture, the challenges in establishing an adult life structure are formidable, and many young adults find themselves still financially and/or emotionally dependent on their parents into their middle or even late twenties.  At Clearwater, we believe that these young people have particular issues and needs that are not necessarily addressed by having them participate in skills classes with much older adults.  We therefore are offering skills classes, taught by Karen Erickson, MFT, adapted to this age group.  While the curriculum is identical to that used in our adult classes, the interpersonal approach and content, and lecturing style, are adapted to the needs of the college age, and post-college, young adult.

As with the older adults, the menu of DBT services for young adults at Clearwater includes individual therapy, typically including phone coaching from 7am to 10pm daily.  As noted, we offer special skills classes in the evenings for clients between the ages of 19 and 25, but we are not rigid about age, and we like to meet with potential participants individually before enrolling them to be sure and find a good fit. We will on occasion offer  individualized tutoring services to help the young adults learn and practice DBT skills when classes do not appear feasible (because of school commitments, learning style, or other extenuating circumstances).  Although in this age group we do not require parent participation in our program, we do offer parent coaching (one or more of the teen’s parents meets with a therapist on an on-going basis, frequency to be negotiated) and parent groups that are intended to teach DBT skills to parents  so that they can then facilitate their child’s development.

Typically, we require a six month commitment to DBT at the beginning of treatment as that is the time frame needed to teach the entire DBT curriculum.  Most young adults 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 the young adult 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 Young Adults are:

  • Tuesdays from 6:00 to 7:15 with Karen Erickson, LMFT.  Next entry dates are 6/12/18 & 8/14/18.  Class size is limited to 9.
  • Wednesdays from 6:00 to 7:15 with Karen Erickson, LMFT.  Next entry dates are 6/13/18 & 8/15/18.  Class size is limited to 9.

Skills classes cost $720 per person for each 8 week segment. Payment is due at the time of enrollment.  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