“My dog Gus brings me a lot of comfort and happiness. Being able to have him with me at Bridges made it possible for me to focus on treatment.”

— Bridges to Recovery Alumna

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) seeks to simultaneously change behavior and create greater self-acceptance through self-reflective and interpersonal skill-building practices. Originally designed to help people who experience suicidal ideation and self-harm, DBT quickly proved effective for treating borderline personality disorder, and remains the gold standard for the illness. Today, DBT is used to treat a wide spectrum of mental health disorders, including mood disorders, eating disorders, and impulse control disorders. Although a traditional course of DBT treatment lasts at least six months, Bridges to Recovery offers an intensified format that addresses the most immediate concerns of our clients.

Stepping Stones to Recovery

DBT consists of four modules. Together they form a comprehensive program to improve focus and interpersonal functioning, decrease impulsivity, increase self-awareness, and enhance the management and expression of emotion.


Mindfulness is the foundation of all DBT practices, and uses meditative exercises and didactic therapy to increase your awareness of and focus on the present moment. You will learn to nonjudgmentally observe, describe, and participate in your environment, and are encouraged to let thoughts appear and leave the mind without rumination or reproach. Mindfulness decreases emotional volatility, and allows you to understand your present state and needs.

Distress tolerance

Your therapist will aid you in developing better responses to stressors and viewing difficult situations in less overwhelming ways. You will learn distraction techniques to shift your attention, self-soothing skills, using positive mental imagery to reframe the current moment, and focusing on pros and cons to determine whether distress tolerance will help you. Rather than avoiding distress, DBT helps you increase your tolerance to and acceptance of difficult feelings or situations.

Interpersonal Effectiveness

The interpersonal effectiveness module teaches you about how to engage in mutually satisfying relationships and emotional exchanges. You will learn to identify what your own social needs are, and how to best get those needs met while maintaining self-respect, honesty, and fairness. Skills for avoiding and dealing with interpersonal conflict are addressed, as are assertiveness and the ability to say no to others.

Emotion regulation

The emotion regulation module explores the nature and function of emotions and how to increase your control over them. Emotion regulation is not about suppressing the negative feelings that often accompany traumatic life experiences and mental health disorders, but about understanding and validating them. At the same time, you will learn skills to form alternative responses that help you prevent distress and decrease vulnerability to painful states.

At Bridges to Recovery, you will work together with other clients in a safe, intimate social environment that allows everyone to feel heard and understood, explore and practice new skills as you learn, and receive feedback from your peers. While the group format of DBT is a crucial component to its effectiveness, you will also be encouraged to expand on the issues raised in DBT group in your individual therapy sessions. Our goal is to guide you away from reactive, self-destructive behaviors and toward improved relationships and greater emotional insight.

If you or a loved one is suffering from a mental health disorder, contact us to discuss how DBT at Bridges to Recovery can help.

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