Leading DBT Treatment In Atlanta, GA

Hillside is known for continuously implementing the most effective therapies and tools available to help the children and families in our care. Thanks to generous grants from the Jesse Parker Williams Foundation, we have been able to train our staff in Dialectical Behavior Therapy and continue with the training annually since 2005.

A proven treatment modality, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) shows positive results for many children experiencing mental health issues. At Hillside, we’ve seen positive outcomes with the DBT approach in some children who previously did not respond to other therapies. Behavioral science cannot offer any guarantees, but DBT gives us hope in areas where the outlook was previously bleak.

What Is DBT?

what is dbt

DBT is a unique and specialized form of cognitive behavioral therapy used to help people suffering from mental disorders to reduce their emotional extremes. With certain mental disorders, the accompanying emotional highs and lows add an extra layer of complexity and make it difficult for the client to concentrate on the core issue. DBT focus on changing problematic thought patterns and teaching helpful skill so clients can effectively manage emotional extremes.

Four Stages of DBT Treatment

There are four stages of treatment in DBT following a pre-treatment stage where the goals for therapy are set. Each stage has specific targets in treatment and helps move the clients from “feeling miserable and being out of control” to becoming more aware and having the ability to regulate their feelings and behaviors. In the first stage of DBT, the focus is to help our clients move from being out of control of their behavior to being in control.

Once their behaviors stabilize the clients move into stage II, where they work on fully experiencing their emotions. In stage III, clients focus on building a healthy lifestyle and developing self-reliance. For some, a fourth stage is needed. In stage IV, clients who seek deeper meaning through a spiritual fulfillment work on moving from a sense of incompleteness to connection with a greater whole.

4 Hierarchal DBT Treatment Targets

There are also 4 hierarchy of treatment targets in DBT which help determine what needs to be addressed as a priority. These targets include Life-Threatening Behaviors, Therapy Interfering Behaviors, Quality of Life Behaviors, and Skills Acquisition.

Decreasing life-threatening behaviors
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Suicidal threats
  • Suicide attempts
  • Self-injurious behaviors (helping teens who cut)
Decreasing therapy-interfering behaviors
  • Missing or coming late to sessions
  • Remaining silent in sessions
Decreasing quality-of-life interfering behaviors
  • Physical aggression
  • Electronic dependence
  • Substance abuse
  • Trouble in school
  • Relationship conflict
  • Excessive worry over school/life's demands
Increasing coping skills
  • Learning to relate to and communicate better with others
  • Learning to understand and tolerate different emotions
  • Improving acceptance of one's self
  • Skills for being able to enjoy the present moment more fully

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a unique and specialized form of therapy that combines skills for staying grounded in the present moment and coping skills for tolerating the stressors of internal and external conflicts.

DBT focuses on developing new skills and behaviors to help with understanding and relaxing emotions, tolerating when life does not go as planned, navigating relationships/conflict with others, improving parent-child interactions and increasing contentment with the present moment.

Development of these skills motivates preteens and adolescents to create a healthy balance of acceptance and change. This empowers them to overcome challenges like peer pressure, bullying and social media.

DBT benefits individuals and families struggling with moodiness and anxiety, as well as relationships – be they peer or familial. It also encourages participants to find interests and motivations outside of social media, which in turn prepares them in handling ALL of life’s ups and downs, not just the digital ones.

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Benefits of DBT

One benefit is that Hillside uses dialectical behavior therapy to treat depression. As a comprehensive treatment, DBT has been successfully proven to help decrease self-injurious behaviors, mood instability, chaotic relationships, anger and impulsive behaviors. Also, DBT helps improve the understanding of personal boundaries and relationships, and how to better deal with conflicting or painful emotions. The aim is to decrease disruptive and potentially life-threatening behaviors.

Disorders DBT Can Help

Dialectical Behavior Therapy changes the thought patterns that produce frequent emotional extremes. This reduction in emotionality can be useful in treating multiple disorders, including:

  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Addiction

As a cognitive behavioral therapy, DBT can be used in conjunction with other treatment modalities to help clients suffering from a whole range of emotion-based disorders.

Hillside’s DBT Approach

Pioneering the use of dialectical behavior therapy in Atlanta, Georgia, Hillside is one of the first residential facilities in the southeast that has therapists who are intensively trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Along with our intensively trained therapists, Hillside staff at all levels complete DBT education upon orientation and renew this training annually. Indeed, Hillside is recognized in the field for its DBT residential treatment programs. The campus is saturated in DBT and it remains part of our day, every day.

We are proud to have the first and currently only DBT-Linehan Board Certification, Certified Clinician™ through the Linehan Institute in the state of Georgia.

The certification is a rigorous, multi-year process. There are currently 138 DBT-Linehan Board of Certification, Certified Clinician™ worldwide and our own clinician, Dr. Kimberly Vay, Ed.D, LPC has earned her place among this elite group of clinicians. Dr. Vay’s fellow clinicians at Hillside are also seeking certification as Hillside strives to be one of the first residential treatment facilities in the nation to be recognized by the DBT-LBC .

In addition to residential dialectical behavior therapy, Hillside offers DBT treatment for clients in our outpatient clinic. The strategies that DBT teaches — interpersonal effectiveness, mindfulness, emotional regulation and distress tolerance — are useful skills for living in any situation. Learning these skills through DBT therapy, in conjunction with any other treatment modalities, is an asset to overall mental health.

By extending DBT therapy to our outpatient clinic, we can involve clients and their families, either as they transition from the residential program back home or as part of an outpatient program. Our desire is to teach children and families the DBT skills they need to cope with behaviors together, so the child returns home and remains in the home.

To learn more about our DBT treatment options and facilities, contact us today!

hillside dbt therapy

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