How we use Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)

What is Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)?

DBT was developed in the late 1980s by Dr Marsha Linehan and colleagues.

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is a talking therapy built on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) but adapted to support people who experience very intense emotions.

DBT will help someone to make sense of, accept difficult feelings, and develop skills that help you manage them so that you are able to make positive changes in your life. This therapeutic approach can provide effective treatment for ADHD, bipolar disorder, personality disorder, eating disorders, chronic depression, self-injury behaviours and OCD. 

APT Award

Our team identified that there was little information available about DBT and how it could support autistic people and those with learning disabilities and since 2016 have been working to develop this specialism. Our teams and everyone we support have worked together to create very meaningful outcomes, so much so that we were named a finalist for the APT Award for Excellence in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy in 2021.

How do we use DBT to support people at Alderwood?

We have adapted the DBT principles to provide an effective therapeutic approach for those we support. We’re aspiring to be the DBT centre of excellence for autistic people, and to people who have a learning disability, mental health conditions and personality disorders.

When you choose Alderwood, you’ll automatically have access to our specialist teams who will help you or your loved one to live a happy and fulfilled life.

The core units of DBT are mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotional regulation, distress tolerance and walking the middle path. Altogether, these enable us to deliver the best support for you or your loved one, including:

  • Person-centered support that focuses on coping with acceptance and change, and learning how to manage behaviours and thoughts that are not helpful.
  • Support from a dedicated DBT Consult Team who continuously develops the Alderwood DBT programme based on the latest research and techniques.
  • The opportunity to work with your own DBT Champion at home every day on a 1 to 1 basis, to support you to make positive changes in how you approach situations.
  • Encouragement to  set and achieve goals and aspirations, build confidence, and develop independence through developing new skills in a supportive and homely environment.
  • Phone consultations and emergency prevention, to help remind people of their skills and how to use them in a crisis situation when they feel they might not be able to cope.
  • Access to a team of enthusiastic DBT experts, who develop their skills and share best practice at weekly group skill sessions, so that they can continuously provide the very best support. 
  • A psychologically informed environment that creates a feeling of warmth, safety and trust to support people to make the space home. 

DBT in action

But what does it look like?
As soon as you walk into DBT-specialist homes, you’ll feel the positive environment. You’ll see ‘Skill of the week’ boards, inspiring metaphor quotes, colourful spaces and a focus on achievements and future goals. Everyone uses diary cards each day to journal feelings and thoughts, and we take part in behaviour chain analysis to help people understand their behaviour and how to use their skills to cope in a more therapeutic manner. 

DBT is about positive behaviour and building aspirations, goals and dreams for the future. This positive culture has helped so many people heal and rebuild trust after experiencing trauma, and become ready to take their next step towards independence. 

Since we started delivering DBT therapy in our homes in 2018, we have seen incredible transformations.

People have joined us from hospitals, secure settings and other environments with traumatic backgrounds, mental disorders and learning disabilities, and found that DBT has helped them to change their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. DBT has almost always quickly brought about a more positive and fulfilling life for that person. 

We’re so proud to see everyone achieving more in lives. Here are just some of the wonderful achievements we have been proud to be part of.

DBT is helping people to build dreams and aspirations

DBT has enabled someone we support to achieve some of their life goals. The person is now going to shop independently, completed the Race for Life, and has met and is coping with meeting family members, using DBT to help with anxiety around this.

DBT is helping people manage and overcome anxiety

Before using DBT, the person could not leave their flat due to extreme anxiety.

With the principles and practice of DBT, the person was able to achieve a longstanding goal of going shopping for clothing. Building on this confidence, the person has since visited the family home, where she had a great time enjoying family life. The look on her face and that of her mum was amazingly special for us all.

She has gone from spending all her time in her own flat to now attending events, socialises with others and is growing in confidence all the time

DBT is helping people claim their identity

Through building a positive and trusting relationship with her DBT Champion, this person had the confidence to talk about a change in gender identity, which we have supported her to do. She is now applying for mainstream college, after feeling she had outgrown where she was.

She has had a piercing, started going to pubs and entertainment venues and has had the confidence to start a relationship whilst at the same time keeping herself safe. She has massively reduced her incidents of self-harm and she is becoming more confident in herself.  She is looking to her future with a smile on her face.

Find support

Check out some of our homes that provide specialist DBT support.

DBT Specialist Support Homes

Richmond House

Stoneybeck

Mellieha

Elmswell and Oakdale

Have a referral?
We are here to help.

We are here to support you and your family. If you have a referral please get in touch.