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The Relevance of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy to Trauma Work

Individuals who have experienced trauma, particularly complex trauma, often present with a wide range of difficulties that do not fit neatly into standard or uniform case formulations. Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) offers an effective transdiagnostic treatment for the sequelae of trauma, that can include dysregulation of emotions, cognitions, behavior, interpersonal and self. The power of DBT comes from its well-articulated theory, protocol, and multiple strategies that allow for thoughtful and genuine therapeutic collaboration, and its simultaneous embrace of acceptance-validation and cognitive-behavioral change strategies. DBT has been found to be effective in helping people who experience intense emotional suffering and maladaptive coping skills to “create a life that’s worth living.”

In this workshop, Debbie and Robin will introduce the foundational knowledge of DBT and demonstrate how to apply DBT to work with a heterogeneous and complex population of individuals, including individuals with complex trauma histories. They will review empirical support for DBT, introduce core principles of DBT treatment, the assumptions and agreements about therapy in DBT, the structure of DBT treatment, explain the transactional biosocial processes that underlie pervasive dysregulation, and the skills that clients learn in DBT. They will also focus specifically on trauma treatment fits within the parameters and stages of DBT, including information on cutting edge interventions. Participants will learn through a combination of didactic material, role-plays, and experiential activities for a full-bodied understanding of applying DBT in their therapeutic practice.

As a comprehensive treatment, DBT can:

Decrease the frequency and severity of self-destructive behaviors.
Increase the motivation to change by providing positive reinforcement.
Teach “coping skills” that generalize to a person’s environment.
Provide a treatment environment that emphasizes the strengths of both individuals and their treatments.
Enhance the therapist’s motivation and ability to treat clients effectively.


February 15, 2018 @ 8:30 am
February 16, 2018 @ 4:30 pm


The Jordan Institute for Families


Room Number


UNC School of Social Work
Tate-Turner-Kuralt Building - 325 Pittsboro St #3550
Chapel Hill, NC 27516 United States
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