DBT is a comprehensive program with four components: individual therapy, group skills training, phone coaching and DBT team consultation for providers. The DBT team collaborates on treating the patients and the clinicians serve as a support system for one other. Not one component can be used independently, as each one focuses on elements of DBT.
“This is the first therapy with four modalities for dysregulated individuals. Patients attend weekly individual and group sessions, and we provide phone coaching calls between appointments to help decrease crisis,” Ventura said. “Family support is important, as patients must commit to one year of DBT. We offer a family orientation, where all participants commit to the strategy upfront. Parents are relieved to know that we are beside them when their child is going through a crisis.”
DBT patients can attend school and participate in extracurricular activities while receiving outpatient treatment. This provides children with normalcy and lessens anxiety about the stigma associated with hospitalization.
“DBT decreases patient hospitalization, self-harm and stabilizes them. When they’re not in school, children may perform poorly, resulting in them becoming more depressed,” Ventura said.
In Jacksonville, DBT is in high demand, with a waiting list of patients in need of treatment. To help meet the demand, Ventura’s goal is to educate clinicians on providing DBT. She encourages mental health professionals to become more informed and trained in the DBT model.
“Certification is both rewarding and rigorous and takes several years. I was supervised by a certified clinician for more than a year, earned 40 hours of DBT intensive clinical coursework, attended mindfulness training, took a written exam, wrote a patient case conceptualization and recorded patient sessions for fidelity. The certification helps clinicians provide high-quality care to children and families,” Ventura said.
DBT and the providers offering this unique approach to therapy are changing lives, helping children and young adults to cope and live in the moment, and for longer, in an ever-changing world.