Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is a cognitive behavioural style of treatment that is recognized as the gold standard psychological treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Research has also shown that DBT effectively treats a number of other disorders such as substance disorders, eating disorders, and other impulse-control problems. DBT is a comprehensive therapy that involves attendance at weekly skills training groups, individual therapy in the DBT framework, and access to phone coaching. In addition to these components for clients, DBT therapists attend weekly consultation meetings to ensure they are delivering the therapy according to the model.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Skills Training

Skills training groups teach the client new skills to manage emotions, urges, and interpersonal interactions more effectively.  Each group skills training session is run like a class. After a brief mindfulness practice, the previous weeks’ content is reviewed, homework (to practice skills) is shared, new skills are taught, and new homework is assigned. Individual therapy helps the client apply the skills learned in group more effectively in their own lives, using a specific framework to do so.  Phone coaching gives the client access to support from their individual therapist through the week outside of sessions. Phone coaching sessions typically last approximately 5 minutes. 


There are four skills training modules:

  • Mindfulness teaches clients skills to be more intentionally present in their lives, and aware of their internal and external experiences, without judgment.  Mindfulness is core to DBT, and, as such, this module is incorporated into the other three modules (that is, the first 2 weeks of every module focus on Mindfulness skills). 

  • Interpersonal Effectiveness (8 weeks total) teaches skills to more effectively set boundaries and ask for help/support, without damaging relationships or self-respect.

  • Emotion Regulation (9 weeks total) teaches clients why emotions are important, how to identify exactly what emotion you are feeling, how to change unwanted emotions, and how to reduce vulnerability to emotions. 

  • Distress Tolerance (8 weeks total) teaches skills to help clients survive a crisis (extremely high distress), and teaches reality acceptance skills for when difficult circumstances are prolonged.


Lesley Hartman and Associates Inc. has an intensively trained team, and offers the first comprehensive DBT program in private practice east of Montréal. This represents a high level of training, and commitment to adherence to the DBT treatment model.


At Lesley Hartman and Associates Inc, all clients with a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, or seeking DBT therapy, must enrol in skills training groups. While we recommend that all clients with BPD undertake comprehensive DBT (skills training group plus individual therapy and phone coaching), we understand that this isn’t possible for all clients for different reasons.  For more information on our DBT program, contact us at 902-431-1721. After an intake appointment, you will be scheduled to attend an orientation session to learn more about the therapy and our program. You will then be booked for an appointment with one of our DBT therapists to determine if the program is the right fit for you.

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