DBT – Dialectical Behavioral Therapy in a therapeutic boarding school

DBT – Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Changing negative behavior into positive behavior is at the heart of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy or DBT . Helping individuals accept and change life threatening behaviors or improve their quality of life behaviors is the goal of the DBT therapist. Many of the students at Discovery Academy come to us having been successful in previous treatment settings.  Often the therapeutic skills and knowledge learned using Dialectical Behavioral Therapy or DBT has been an integral part of that previous treatment progress.

Therefore, Discovery Academy builds on and supports this success.  We provide group experiences and therapeutic opportunities that enhance the student’s DBT skills.

DBT Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Infographic

DBT skills training consists of developing competency in:

  • Mindfulness: The practice of being aware and present in the moment
  • Emotional Regulations: How to manage or change emotions that you want to change.
  • Distress Tolerance: How to manage and tolerate pain, not necessarily change it.
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness: How to appropriately get needs met while maintaining self-respect and relationships with others.


In addition to DBT skill training, there are 4 main stages of treatment that apply when discovering where a student is behaviorally and where they can improve.

DBT skill application becomes most effective when a student and therapist approach treatment with a balanced approach of acceptance and change. Accepting a student as they are today, and helping them accept themselves facilitates the opportunity for change to occur. During the difficult times when negative behavior patterns arise the opportunity to use newly acquired DBT skills is enhanced with the help of the environment and professional staff and therapists at Discovery Academy. As behavior improves students progress through the 4 stages ultimately leading to a happier life.
Stage 1 – Out of control behavior may include self-harm, substance abuse and other self-destructive behaviors. The goal of this phase is to gain behavioral control.
Stage 2 – Quiet desperation. Often includes issues related to PTSD and other issues where emotional experience is inhibited. The goal is full emotional experiencing.
Stage 3 – Learning to Live. Goals, self-respect, peace and happiness. Goal is ordinary happiness and ordinary unhappiness or contentment.
Stage 4 – *Finding a deeper meaning for your life. This stage is designed specifically for those individuals who wish to move from a sense of incomplete to a life of ongoing capacity for experiences of joy and freedom.
*Stage 4 was added by the Author of DBT for those who desired to find a spiritual fulfillment or connectedness to a greater whole.