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Butler Hospital
Butler Hospital

DBT Treatment Approach

A Guide for Clinicians

Dialectical behavior therapy is used for the treatment of individuals who experience chronic suicidal thoughts, self-injury, and impulsive behaviors. It is also helpful for those who are emotionally overwhelmed and have difficulty managing their feelings. Research supports the application of DBT to a range of psychiatric difficulties.

People may engage in a variety of harmful behaviors in an effort to change a very painful state of mind. DBT focuses on helping patients learn acceptance-based techniques to help manage uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, rather than struggling with or avoiding them. This is accomplished through DBT group education, which teaches strategies for effectively managing challenging relationships, situations, thoughts, and feeling.

The Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Program at Butler Hospital provides intensive treatment for patients with acute psychiatric disorders, including depression, anxiety, and/or substance related problems. The CBT Program takes place in Butler Hospital's partial hospital setting, which is designed for individuals who need structured programming but who do not need an inpatient level of care.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy Benefits

Dialectical behavior therapy is used to overcome many health and behavioral concerns, including but not limited to:

  • Feeling suicidal much of the time.
  • Hurting oneself to change the way one feels.
  • Living chaotic, painful lives.
  • Remaining depressed despite treatment.
  • Experiencing spells of emotional "numbness."
  • Feeling painfully empty.
  • Experiencing fears of being abandoned.
  • Trouble tolerating emotions.
  • Eating too much or too little.
  • Being unable to stop thinking about a traumatic painful past.
  • Having numerous psychiatric hospitalizations.
  • Engaging in painful relationships.

Multidisciplinary Team Approach to Care

Through a multidisciplinary team approach to patient care, the program's psychiatrists and clinical specialists provide individual and group therapy, medication management, DBT skills training, and after-care planning tailored to the needs of each patient. Patients meet with a psychiatrist for medication assessment and management. Much of the day is spent in DBT skills groups. Patients also meet daily with an individual therapist to help them learn how to apply what they are learning in the groups to their own personal lives.

Biomedical Services

In addition, the program offers biomedical services including:

  • Psychiatric evaluations.
  • Psychotropic medication management.
  • Laboratory tests.
  • Internal medicine consultation.
  • Nutrition consultation.
  • Quantitative symptom assessment.


During the DBT program, a treatment team works with patients to determine the most helpful aftercare plan for their individual needs. Before leaving the program, patients will receive a discharge instruction sheet, which includes follow-up plans, outpatient appointments and any necessary prescriptions. In addition, after discharge from the hospital, there is a free six-month DBT Skills Class that meets once per week for two hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:15 to 5 p.m. Anyone who has recently completed the program and has not previously attended the six-month class is invited. There is no charge for this class.


To refer a patient, please call (401) 455-6223. After business hours, please fax the Partial Hospital Referral Form to (401) 455-6222. The Women's Dialectical Behavior Therapy Program accepts most third party payments, including Medicare. Free parking is available.

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  Patient Referrals

To refer a patient to the Women's Dialectical Behavior Therapy Partial Hospital Program at Butler Hospital, please call 401-455-6223. After business hours, please fax the Ambulatory Referral Form  to 401- 455-6222. The DBT Program accepts most third party payments, including Medicare. Free parking is available.
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