Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Overview

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.

We have recently developed two unique class curriculums.   One class applies DBT concepts and skills to parenting questions. We have also adapted DBT skills instruction for children in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade.  Because these programs are original to Clearwater, they have not been researched and empirically validated in the same way that the adult and adolescent curriculums have.  For a list of all classes currently offered, including dates, times, and teachers, please click on the specific program link you are interested in under the Services tab.

More specifically, we offer a wide range of services for most age groups, including:

  • Comprehensive DBT Services for Adults: Individual DBT therapy (1-3 sessions/week), weekly skills training class, and access to telephone coaching. Scheduling of individual therapy is flexible, and we have both a daytime and evening skills class. Clients have access to phone coaching with their primary therapist on weekdays from 7am to 10pm. A rotating DBT staff therapist is available from 7am to 10pm on weekends. More details about phone coaching will be provided during pre-treatment intake sessions.
  • Comprehensive DBT Services for Young Adults: We offer the same program for young adults (typically college age) as for adults, but with skills classes specifically designed for clients in this age group. Available services include individual DBT therapy (1-3 sessions/week), weekly skills training class, and telephone coaching. Scheduling of individual therapy is flexible, and most skills classes meet in the evenings. Clients have access to phone coaching with their primary therapist on weekdays from 7am to 10pm. A rotating DBT staff therapist is available from 7am to 10pm on weekends. More details about phone coaching will be provided during pre-treatment intake sessions.
  • Comprehensive DBT Services for Teens and Families: Individual DBT therapy (1-3 sessions/week) for teens, weekly skills training class for teens and their parent(s), and telephone coaching for teens. Parental participation is a required part of our adolescent program, and we usually find it necessary and beneficial for parent(s) to meet with their own DBT therapist for individualized parent coaching, thus receiving telephone coaching as well. We will make determinations about the scope of DBT treatment needed for particular families on a case-by-case basis.
  • DBT-Informed Child Therapy: DBT principles have been adapted by Clearwater for school-age children, approximately 8-10 years old. Therapy focuses on teaching and individualizing the four DBT skill areas using child-friendly language and written materials.  Our DBT therapists are also able to coordinate with existing therapists to provide DBT skills instruction as an adjunct to current therapy.
  • DBT Skills Classes without an individual DBT therapist: We provide DBT skills classes for teens and families, young adults, and adults. This may be appropriate for individuals and families currently being seen by a clinician outside of Clearwater who has recommended DBT skills training as an adjunct to individual therapy. When clients come to DBT Skills Class only, we collaborate with the referring individual therapists to ensure continuity of care, but individual therapists retain responsibility for treatment. Appropriateness of this option will be determined in consultation with DBT staff.
  • Individual DBT Skills Tutoring for all ages: This option may be appropriate for individuals who have had previous DBT therapy/skills training and would like refresher sessions; individuals who have time limitations; and/or those who have extreme  difficulty tolerating a group setting. This service is focused solely on DBT skills training, and not a substitute for comprehensive DBT therapy or other psychotherapy. Appropriateness of this option will be determined in consultation with DBT staff.

Our main building is located at 345 38th Street, and some of our classes are held in that building.  We also have a large classroom across the street at 3803 Broadway, Suite 1, Oakland CA, 94611, and most of our large classes are held in that building.

Skills classes cost $720 per person for each 8 week segment in the 24-week curriculum for our adult or young adult programs.  Adolescent classes cost a total of $960 for one teen and one parent/caregiver to attend each 6-week segment in the 24-week curriculum.  Payments are due at the time of enrollment.  Clearwater does not accept Medi-cal or direct third party payments.  Visa and Mastercard are welcome.

Updated 7/14/2017