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Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavior Therapy(DBT) was developed by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D. In the years since, DBT has evolved to become a more frequently sought treatment for a variety of conditions. DBT was initially intended to aid those who were chronically suicidal, as an alternative to Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). However, today it has proven effective in a variety of circumstances. Those suffering from interpersonal difficulties, treatment dropout, and other conditions have benefitted from DBT. Many strategies are utilized through DBT to get our clients where they would like to be.

DBT focuses on balancing logic with feelings to improve coping skills and reduce ineffective behavior. The general goals of DBT include improving relationships, decreasing anxiety and misery, and enhancing the quality of life or “build a life worth living”. DBT helps individuals find effective ways to manage problems and is a combination of individual and group therapy. Contact us today if you’re seeking DBT services.


Our providers are trained by Behavioral Tech –the founder of DBT– and practices comprehensive DBT. We meet the DHS MN certification standards and requirements for DBT programs. Choices Psychotherapy is one of a select few locations certified in DBT. All of our groups are coed, adults only and we currently offer both evening and day groups.


DBT incorporates the following 4 modules:

  1.       Core Mindfulness- learning to stay in the moment, observe life around oneself, and use Wise Mind to do what is effective at any given time; full and effective participationAn exercise we like to use in core mindfulness involves developing our “what” skills and “how” skills. This allows clients to identify what issues are, and how to effectively resolve them. For example, this would mean being able to say “I am feeling sad because I am in an argument with my friend.” instead of, “My friend must not think I’m a good person.”
  1.       Interpersonal Effectiveness- improving coping skills, learning assertiveness, determining values and priorities in relationships, how to increase the likelihood that needs/wants are metAn acronym we regularly like to use in interpersonal effectiveness is “Dearman.” Applying these concepts helps clients to get what they want in any given situation.Describe: Be able to describe a situation in a judgement free way, and concisely.
    Express: Express feelings when explaining a situation.
    Assert: Assert your desires in a concrete manner.
    Reinforce: Explain, again, if necessary why your objective is your ideal scenario.
    Mindful: Stay present, continuously dedicated to your current goal.
    Appear confident: Posture, eye contact, and manner of speaking all communicate confidence.
    Negotiate: Be open to negotiation, keep an open mind and realize that compromise is often necessary.
  1.       Emotional Regulation- learning to regulate emotions, name feelings, reduce experiential avoidance and discover a variety of other emotions through emotional growthLearning to regulate emotion employs a variety of tactics for clients to utilize when they feel they are losing control of their emotions. One of these tactics involves the “Please” acronym.PhysicaL Illness: Get treatment for any ailments or injuries.
    Eating: Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
    Avoid: Do not indulge in anything damaging to your mind and body such as illegal drugs or non prescribed medications.
    Sleep: Get eight hours of sleep a night. No more and no less.
    Exercise: Regularly exercising increases endorphins, making a person happy.
  1.       Distress Tolerance- developing new skills to soothe oneself and increase ability to tolerate distress effectively, while recognizing that stress/pain is an inevitable part of lifeDistress tolerance encompasses many exercises to ease distress. These can include self soothing, and indulging in an activity the individual finds nurturing, weighing pros and cons of handling distress poorly, or empowering yourself to accept the reality of a situation for what it is.Dialectical behavior therapy is centered around the idea that any habits that aren’t effective to the client should be ceased or altered immediately. Behaviors such as suicidal thoughts, self-inflicted violence, personality disorders, addiction and others are controlled through using mindfulness and healthy skills in daily life. The client learns to recognize negative patterns in their thinking, apply learned skills to cope with the issue and better their situation and lives.

Contact Choices at (952)-544 6806.


In DBT, treatment follows a hierarchy with safety being top priority.  Target behaviors (unhealthy patterns) are the focus of individual sessions with less emphasis on factors that can disrupt progress.  Situations that are life threatening are always addressed first, while lower risk issues are dealt with in later stages of treatment.

Stages Of DBT

Stage One

The first stage addresses any issues that may result in physical harm of the client.


Stage Two

This stage ensures that the client remains in therapy to deal with any other issues affecting said client’s quality of life.


Stage Three

In DBT, stage three is dedicated to building a better quality of life for our clients. This is achieved through the development of skills. The goal of stage three is for the client to achieve an ordinary level of happiness and unhappiness.


Stage Four

The final stage builds on the skills acquired in all prior stages to get clients who aren’t satisfied with ordinary levels of happiness and unhappiness to where they would like to be.



Choices Psychotherapy is specially trained in DBT, as well as several other areas of therapy. If you are seeking help, Choices has a path that can help lead you in the right direction.