Young Adult with Dialectical Behavior Therapy

If you’ve been in therapy, you’ve likely been exposed to DBT before, and may have found it to be only marginally helpful. But don’t give up on it yet. When DBT is truly integrated into your life (as it would be in a DBT treatment center), the impact it has will change you forever.


Young adulthood is “supposed” to be an exciting time filled with friends, dating, schooling, and launching into a rewarding career. That ideal reality is not only rare among the general population, it’s nearly impossible when you’re dealing with emotional struggles. Depression, anxiety, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and borderline personality disorder (BPD) are among the top challenges holding young adults back from meeting their potential. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) — a set of skills to help manage emotions and improve relationships — has proven effective in treating these emotional challenges.


DBT is a set of skills designed to help you control your emotions and behaviors instead of letting them control you. You might experience emotions that escalate quickly, take longer to return to baseline, or feel extremely intense (or all three). To help you gain control, the DBT skills focus on four main focus areas:


Mindfulness skills allow you to stay in the “here and now” and experience the present moment. These skills are the foundation of DBT.


This skill set teaches you how to ask for what you need, how to cope with interpersonal conflict, and improve your relationships.


Emotion regulation skills help you identify your emotions, understand their purpose, reduce emotional reactivity, improve emotional stability, and better manage your emotional well-being.

This skill set will help you improve impulse control by coping better with stress and tolerating tough situations.

DBT was initially developed to help sufferers of borderline personality disorder to control their intense emotions and manage suicidal urges. DBT showed great success in helping those with BPD manage symptoms, and it remains one of the most widely used treatment methods for borderline personality disorder (BPD). Dialectical behavior therapy has since been successfully used and adapted for challenges such as substance dependence, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and eating disorders.

DBT is organized into several targets (or goals). The targets of DBT are:

  1. Reduce life-threatening behaviors.
  2. Decrease behaviors that may cause an interruption in therapy (such as skipping therapy sessions or dropping out).
  3. Minimize behaviors that negatively impact your quality of life.
  4. Learn more effective coping skills.


Most treatment centers teach DBT skills. You’ve probably been to DBT groups where you learn from a workbook, role play in sessions, and have skills-based homework assignments. That’s become the standard in teaching DBT. This method can be helpful, especially for those who already possess basic coping skills and need some extra guidance on how to be more effective.

While the DBT skills don’t necessarily change, a DBT treatment center is different. While DBT groups promote using DBT as a skill you can draw upon when needed, a DBT treatment program aims to fully integrate these skills into your life.

At a DBT treatment center, you’ll have an intense focus on skills training, not just a once-weekly DBT group. You’ll practice integrating skills into all areas of your life, at all times. You’ll receive constant support and coaching by staff and therapists trained in DBT so that you can be successful in the real world.


In the Optimum Performance Institute (OPI) Intensive program, you’ll get thoroughDBT skills training, along with life coaching and therapy. As an OPI participant, you’ll also practice mindfulness through the UCLA MARC (Mindfulness Awareness Research Center) Institute. You’ll also have activities such as yoga and equine therapy that further promote mindfulness and living in the moment.

The Intensive program is a residential program, but we believe that healing in the real world is the best way to be successful in the real world. From day one, you’ll have access to your phone, computer, and other devices. You’ll live in a Los Angeles area apartment with a roommate and a program staff, where you’ll have ample opportunities to practice implementing DBT skills.

We believe that immersion, along with support and guidance, is the best way to integrate skills into your life and have them stick. After you’re adequately trained in DBT, you’ll start practicing it in the community. With coaching, you’ll find a job, take classes at a local college, or volunteer in the area. In these activities, you can practice DBT skills daily, and process through the situations with a trained staff when you return in the evenings.

By integrating DBT into your life in a real-world setting, you’ll be able to seamlessly integrate into your home community after treatment. You’ll be prepared to live on your own, finish schooling, and find a fulfilling job.


We’d love to help you on your path to independence. To learn more about how you’ll integrate the DBT skills into your life, contact us so we can send you more information or schedule a call together.