DBT Training and Certification

Are you new to DBT and wondering where to start? This page addresses some of the most frequently asked questions about DBT training and how to prepare for certification in DBT. Our staff can also talk with you about your goals and make recommendations – just give us a call or drop us an email.

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Who should learn DBT?

DBT is an effective treatment for a variety of mental health conditions. Those who are less familiar with DBT can begin learning about how the treatment is structured by reading:

Clinicians interested in offering DBT should also be familiar with the research on who is helped by DBT. Visit our Research section for an overview of the data on DBT’s effectiveness, including studies on standard DBT, adaptations of DBT, and DBT Skills-only groups.

What training do I need to do DBT or run DBT Skills Training groups?

DBT is a comprehensive treatment that requires you to blend a principle-based approach with specific protocols that are part of a greater framework of behavioral interventions like analyzing behaviors, problem-solving, and solution analysis. So, the appropriate amount of training will depend on your goals and the needs of the clients or patients whom you treat.

Our Levels of Training make it easy to plan your DBT path. Your individual training plan should take into account whether you want to:

  • Level 1: Learn the basic principles of DBT and decide if it is right for you and your clients
  • Level 2: Apply DBT principles and how DBT skills can integrate into your existing practice. You may also choose to offer DBT skills training groups.
  • Level 3: Implement a full DBT program, based on the original model developed and researched by Dr. Marsha Linehan
  • Level 4: Learn how to adapt DBT for special populations (e.g., adolescents)

DBT Skills Training Groups

Skills trainers must have a very good grasp of DBT skills, practice the skills themselves, and know how to teach them. They need to know basic behavior therapy techniques and DBT treatment strategies, as well as DBT protocols such as the suicide protocol.

For individuals with identified mental disorders, skills training can be conducted by psychotherapists, counselors, case managers, social workers, milieu staff, psychiatric nurses, prescribing psychiatrists, and nurse practitioners.

For individuals without identified mental disorders, skills training can also be conducted by anyone (e.g., teachers, parents, family members, volunteers, and professional trainers) who is well-trained in the principles of skills training and the skills themselves. In some cases, individuals who themselves have gone through skills training and have overcome their own difficulties can also make excellent co-trainers and skills peer counselors.

For more information on this topic, please see the DBT Skills Training Manual: Second Edition (p. 26).

What training methods are effective?

In order to make DBT more widely available in routine clinical practice, it’s important to know what training methods are effective. To date, the most rigorous research on DBT training methods include three randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing two-day workshops and treatment manuals. Topics in the RCTs included DBT skills, chain analysis, and validation strategies (Dimeff et al., 2009; 2011; 2015). These studies found that online trainings and instructor-led trainings are generally superior to treatment manuals in increasing knowledge of DBT, and online trainings led to the largest knowledge gains.

Several studies have evaluated the effectiveness of the DBT Intensive Training model and its impact on implementing a DBT program. These studies found that a majority (63%) of Intensively trained teams continued to have active DBT programs up to 14 years after training (Swales, Taylor, & Hibbs, 2012), and that team cohesion, team communication, team climate, and supervision were associated with implementation of more DBT components (Ditty, Landes, Doyle, & Beidas, 2015).

Behavioral Tech also conducts research on its own DBT Intensive trainings, including a 2013 mixed-methods examination of DBT teams. Results from Phase I of the study showed that 74% of teams sampled still had active DBT programs at the time of follow up. Active teams in the study reported that their achievements included reductions in patients’ suicidal behavior and hospitalizations, building a DBT program despite high obstacles, and building a comprehensive adherent program (Miga, Ivanoff, & DuBose, 2013).

Finally, several studies have evaluated the effectiveness of DBT implementation initiatives that include DBT Intensive Training in combination with brief workshops and expert consultation. These studies have found that DBT implementation initiatives are successful in improving knowledge of DBT, attitudes toward individuals with borderline personality disorder, confidence in the effectiveness of DBT, and use of DBT components in clinical practice (Herschell et al., 2014; Hawkins & Sinha, 1998).

Can I be certified in DBT?

Yes! Behavioral Tech courses help you prepare for DBT certification through the DBT-Linehan Board of Certification (DBT-LBC). Read how our in-person and online training options get you ready for the certification process.

As you plan your training path, you can refer to the requirements for certification on the DBT-LBC website to assess your readiness.

Can I arrange training for one or more groups of providers within my organization?

Yes! We regularly work with agencies and systems of all sizes to train staff and implement DBT. We have over 15 years’ experience in working with hospitals, correctional agencies, state systems, residential treatment centers, and other facilities to prepare their clinicians and other staff in DBT. Read about our Services for Agencies and Systems.

Do you offer training in suicide risk assessment and management?

Yes! We provide training in suicide risk assessment, management, and treatment planning in our Level 3 courses.

Agencies seeking private training in risk assessment and/or management can choose from three-hour and six-hour formats. These courses meet Washington State Department of Health requirements for mandatory training for healthcare providers. Contact a member of our Sales Team to learn more about bringing this workshop to your care setting.

How can I get expert advice on a complex case or my DBT program?

Behavioral Tech offers Consultation Services intended to assist individuals or groups in treating clients or running a DBT program. Consultation can be scheduled as a one-time or ongoing service at a time that is convenient to you. Learn more.