Dialectical Behavior Therapy Services at SLBMI

Adult maleDialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an effective treatment modality for individuals who have difficulty regulating their emotions. When the emotions become intense, an individual may resort to unhealthy methods to cope, include cutting or burning oneself, talking about committing suicide, or using substances like alcohol or recreational drugs.

People who develop this pattern of living are sometimes said to be emotionally disregulated. Ordinary life events can create strong emotions that rapidly escalate to the point that it seems that only drastic, self-destructive actions will bring relief. Those who show this pattern of behavior are often described as having:

  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Chronic suicidality
  • Non-suicidal self-injury
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Substance use disorders
  • Eating disorders (binge eating and bulimia)

DBT was developed to help those whose distress overwhelms their ability to cope with intense emotions. The purpose of treatment is to become skillful at confronting life’s challenges. The individual and therapist work together to use the DBT skills to address problems starting with the most serious:

  • Life-threatening behaviors or suicidal thinking
  • Self-injurious behaviors
  • Behaviors that interfere with treatment
  • Other problems that interfere with quality of life (depression, anxiety, etc.)
  • Problems with creating meaning and joy in life

St. Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute currently offers DBT on an Outpatient and Intensive Outpatient (IOP) basis.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I expect individual DBT therapy to be like?
Individual DBT therapy will involve meeting with a therapist once a week. The therapy will address the client’s presenting concerns by learning and implementing DBT skills. Clients are to keep a daily diary card that tracks emotions, thoughts of suicide, thoughts of harming others, and thoughts of self-injury. Clients will be given homework assignments during each session that encourage skill use outside of session in the person’s everyday life.

What can I expect DBT skills groups to be like?
The group starts off with a brief mindfulness meditation and a check in after the practice. The group then progresses into homework review, skills teaching, and homework assignment. The skills groups emphasize learning a variety of skills to effectively manage skills and to develop proficiency. These groups are not “process” or “talk” oriented. Group members are strongly encouraged to share their homework and other examples of skill use to help ensure the skills are being used as effectively as possible.

What is the time commitment for skills group?
The skills group commitment is one hour and fifteen minutes once a week for approximately six months.

How can loved ones help?
Do what you can to get educated about your loved one’s diagnosis or diagnoses and listen to them so you can try to better understand what their experience might be like. Do not treat them as fragile or broken. Treat them as an equal who is struggling to do the best they can at this time. Be patient as change or improvement may take time.


DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets, Second Edition / Edition 2
Marsha M Linehan
ISBN-10; 1572307811
SBN-13: 9781572307810
Pub. Date: 10/20/2014
Publisher: Guilford Publications, Inc.

 Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World
by Mark Williams, Danny Penman, Jon Kabat-Zinn (Foreword
ISBN: 1609611985 (ISBN13: 9781609611989)
Dialectical Behavior Therapy Missouri

We’re Only a Phone Call Away

Our Intake Coordinators are always available at 314-289-9411 to schedule a confidential assessment if you, a loved one, or a patient may be experiencing a mental health issue. For additional questions about our programs, you can also use our online contact form.

In the case of a medical emergency or crisis, please dial 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Contact Us

New patients please call Intake Coordinators at:


City of St. Louis, Missouri (Macklind)

1129 Macklind Ave, 
St. Louis, MO 63110 
314-534-0200 (returning patients)

Chesterfield, Missouri (West County)

16216 Baxter Rd. Stes 205 and 225,
Chesterfield, MO 63017
636-532-9188 (returning patients)

Belleville, Illinois

521 W. Main St. Ste 201B, 
Belleville, IL 62220
618-825-0051 (returning patients)