Using Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Strategies When Working With Families

Friday, December 1, 2017
9:00 AM-4:00 PM
Jennifer Eaton, LMHC & Marie-Paule de Valdivia, MBA, LCSW


Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is one of the leading examples of an evidence-based practice. Originally developed as an outpatient treatment, DBT has more recently been applied in diverse settings such as public schools, community-based group homes, and outreach treatment settings. DBT has been proven to be effective with people who are in persistent emotional distress, have chronically unstable relationships, and present with recurrent self-injury and/or suicidal behavior. DBT has been used to treat high performing, but-distressed students, seriously disturbed adolescents and people with persistent mental illness and/or developmental disabilities.

Why use DBT strategies when working with families? The theory of DBT is based on a developmental model: the biosocial theory. It was originally designed as an explanation of Borderline Personality Disorder; however, it is also a broad theory about individuals with emotional sensitivity and how the world responds to them.

Families can become divided by the child’s intense emotion and the subsequent invalidation which are the two key aspects of the biosocial theory. This can lead to relationships deteriorating, emotions intensifying, and behaviors escalating. Although there are many family system theories and treatment models, DBT teaches and emphasizes building skills that apply to everyday lives – Skills that benefit children and parents. It is a practical approach and one that has been proven to be effective.

Following this training participants will be able to:

  • Describe the biosocial theory to families which can increase understanding within the family system
  • Demonstrate how to validate families and teach validation techniques to families
  • Demonstrate how to conduct a family chain analysis and help families come up with practical and skillful solutions
  • Demonstrate how to use DEARMAN when communicating with families and teach families how to use this skill when communicating with each other
  • Teach families how to observe and communicate one's limits
  • Coach family members in DBT skills to manage distress

Jennifer Eaton, M.S., LMHC, is the Director of DBT Training and Consultation for The Bridge of Central Massachusetts, Inc. Ms. Eaton, holds a master’s degree in clinical psychology. She was intensively trained in DBT by Dr. Charles Swenson and completed an Advanced Intensive Training under Dr. Marsha Linehan, the developer of DBT. Ms. Eaton has presented numerous times at the annual ISITDBT Conference, and at various local and national conferences. Ms. Eaton maintains a private practice specializing in DBT.

Ms. Eaton has consulted and trained many organizations including: Harvard-Vanguard Behavioral Health, Massachusetts Department of Youth Services, New York State Office of Development Disabilities, Alabama Mentoring Network, Denver Health Systems, The Mental Health Association of Lowell, Community Counseling of Bristol County, Baycove Human Services, The Key Program, and Deveraux, 

In addition, Ms. Eaton has provided training at the following schools: Assabet Valley Collaborative, Dover-Sherborn, Fairfield CT, Greenwich CT, Mendon-Upton Regional Schools, Milford, Millis, Nashoba Regional, Reading, Scituate, Wachusett Regional, Westborough and Westport CT.

Marie-Paule de Valdivia, MBA, LCSW worked in advertising and marketing for two decades before experiencing mental health challenges within her own family. After learning about BPD, she joined the National Education Alliance for Borderline 
Personality Disorder, where she grew the Family Connections program from helping a few hundred families yearly to helping over 3000 families last year – and where she serves today as Executive Vice President. 

Ms. De Valdivia holds an MSW degree from Southern Connecticut State University; where she trained in the DBT-SUD section of the Adult Intensive Outpatient Program of Yale-New Haven Psychiatric Hospital. Ms. De Valdivia works at Yale-New Haven Psychiatric Hospital and is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Social Work in Psychiatry on the Yale School of Medicine faculty.Ms. De Valdivia has presented at NAMI conferences, the Yale Annual BPD Conferences and at the NIMH 9th annual conference in Seattle. 
Marie-Paule is also the founder of Families On The Line, a private practice aimed at coaching family members in DBT based skills.

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