Dialectical Behavior Therapy Program


The Augusta Dialectical Behavior Therapy Program
The Augusta DBT Program is a standard outpatient DBT program for people with serious emotion regulation problems, especially those who meet criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder.  The Augusta DBT Program consists of weekly individual therapy, weekly skills training classes, and skills coaching between sessions. 

Treatment for Severe Emotion Dysregulation:
DBT is an outpatient therapy for people with serious emotion regulation problems. DBT targets severe problem behaviors that interfere with having a life worth living. These behaviors are often attempts to deal with the intense emotions that seem impossible to control. The behaviors can include: suicidal behavior, self-harm behavior, substance abuse, eating disorder behavior, excessive spending, sexually impulsive behavior, and aggressive behavior. Over time, these behaviors create their own set of serious problems. Often, the person with emotion regulation problems feels out of control. A DBT therapist helps identify where, how, when, and why the problem behaviors occur and what other, more skillful behaviors might work in the same situation. These more skillful behaviors are learned in DBT skills training, a class that accompanies the individual therapy. DBT skills training teaches how to identify, label, experience, and regulate emotions, and how to interact more effectively with yourself and others.

Does DBT work?
DBT has been shown to be effective in randomized controlled trials to reduce suicidal and self-harm behavior, psychiatric hospitalizations, anger, hopelessness, and dissociation, while increasing coping skills,and overall functioning for people with Borderline Personality Disorder (a serious emotion regulation disorder).  It has also been shown to be effective in the treatment of substance use disorders, eating disorders, aggressive behaviors, and in helping others such as adolescents with multiple problems.   
What is DBT like?
Standard outpatient DBT consists of both individual therapy once per week and a skills training class once per week. Individual therapy focuses on how to decrease targeted behavior problems and how to apply the full range of DBT skills to the difficulties that life is presenting. Skills training is a class which includes lecture and discussion, homework and behavioral rehearsal of a wide array of skills organized into four modules.
The modules are:
Mindfulness
Emotion Regulation
Distress Tolerance
Interpersonal Effectiveness

It takes a minimum of 6 months to complete the skills training curriculum, and it is recommended that an individual allow one year to thoroughly learn the skills. Similarly, serious behavior problems are unlikely to disappear quickly even with the best motivation. Therefore, you will usually be asked to make a one year commitment to DBT therapy. DBT individual therapists make themselves available to you by phone in between appointments for the purpose of coaching you in applying your new skills to real-life situations. This is so that the skills you learn in the class can become even more helpful to you in decreasing problem behaviors. An additional component of DBT is consultation among DBT therapists, so that therapists remain balanced and focused in applying therapeutic strategies. Information about you will always be kept confidential by members of the DBT team. The combination of individual therapy, skills training, skills coaching, and consultation is what makes DBT a unique and comprehensive treatment.

What do I do if I’m interested?
Contact the director of the Augusta DBT Program, Amy House, Ph.D., at 706-721-6710. The admissions process to the program usually begins with having you complete a set of screening questionnaires and return these to us. If these questionnaires indicate that DBT may be appropriate for you, you will be assigned to the next available DBT therapist. That therapist will contact you to set up an initial evaluation appointment. At that appointment, the assessment process will continue, and you will learn more about DBT. You will be given plenty of opportunity to have your questions about DBT answered before you are asked to commit to the therapy.