Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Turning Point was among the first DBT intensive outpatient programs to be certified by the State of Minnesota Department of Health and Human Services. We provide comprehensive DBT, which is described below under “What is DBT?”


DBT is based on a theory that some people are very emotionally sensitive and prone to react strongly in certain situations, particularly those involving close relationships. Emotions can suddenly get very intense, and take a long time to come back to “baseline.” Because other people often don’t understand such reactions (even if they have similar patterns), the highly sensitive person is not adequately helped to develop strategies for living effectively with such emotions. These strong reactions are difficult to tolerate, and can lead to other problems; for instance, self-harm, suicide ideation and/or attempts, angry outbursts, and other impulsive behaviors that can contribute to difficulty in relationships and confusion about a sense of “self.”


DBT was originally developed for the treatment of borderline personality disorder. Research has found this treatment is also effective for reducing substance use, anger, depression, psychiatric hospitalizations and treatment dropout, and for improving effectiveness in social and other problems in living.


For an overview of DBT, a review of the research, and to view a video in which DBT Developer Dr. Marsha Linehan describes the amazing changes she's seen in people who have received DBT, you may wish to visit.


The Linehan Institute - Behavioral Tech or You Tube



What is DBT?

At Turning Point, we provide comprehensive DBT. In other words, we adhere to all of the components of the model developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan:

Skills Training

These 2 ½ hour long weekly groups are run like a class. Your group leader will teach skills and give you assignments to practice using the skills in your everyday life. You agree to actively work to learn the skills by participating in discussions, mindfulness practice, role play exercises and other activities.

Individual Therapy Sessions

This weekly time with your therapist focuses on helping you increase your motivation and apply skills to specific challenges you encounter. Your therapist will give you additional tasks to make sure your treatment is tailored to your specific needs and priorities.

Phone Coaching

This feature allows you to call your DBT therapist when difficult situations arise to get “in-the-moment” coaching on effective use of skills.

DBT Therapist Consultation Team

Our DBT team meets weekly and shares responsibility for the care of our DBT clients. We use this time to coach one another on applying to ourselves the same skills that you will be learning. The purpose is for us to support one another, to stay motivated and provide the best treatment possible.



What Will You Learn?

Mindfulness Skills are at the core of all the DBT skills. By practicing these skills, you learn to experience reality in a non-judgmental way, to focus your attention and be more in control of impulses. The goal is to access your inner wisdom or “Wise Mind.”

Distress Tolerance Skills help you survive crisis situations without making things worse. The focus is to reduce impulsive and destructive behaviors that interfere with your quality of life.

Emotion Regulation Skills help you reduce vulnerability to emotional triggers, decrease suffering and increase your ability to cope with emotional pain. 

Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills help you care for or improve the relationships you have, develop new relationship skills, increase your skill at asking for what you need, set boundaries with others and—when necessary—end hopeless or destructive relationships. 



Is DBT Right For You?

If you suffer from some of the difficulties described above, DBT may be right for you. DBT differs from many other therapy approaches. When you decide to join a DBT program, you must be willing to engage in daily practice related to your treatment goals. This includes daily tracking of emotions, problem behaviors/urges, and use of skills; doing assignments designed to rehearse and trouble-shoot your use of new skills; and detailed analysis of your problem behaviors. While this may sound like a big commitment, our experience and feedback from many people who have participated in our DBT programming support the research findings: That DBT’s highly engaged way of addressing intense symptoms is an effective way to create a “life worth living.”



How Do I Join the Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Program?

The first step to starting DBT at Turning Point is to participate in an assessment to determine if this is the right treatment and the right time for you. At this appointment, a therapist collects a thorough history and works with you to identify your specific goals. They will provide education and discuss expectations of treatment. Together, you will explore your current level of commitment to make the radical changes in how you cope with strong emotion. You and the therapist must make a mutual commitment prior to beginning the first six months of DBT, including specific requirements for remaining in the program. The DBT program takes one year to complete.