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Dialectical Behavior Therapy: Training & Education Programs

Oct 17, 2019

Individuals looking to work as a dialectical behavior therapist can get their Ph.D. in clinical psychology and then receive Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) training after. Explore the programs, courses and job outlook.

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Essential Information

DBT is a method of treating people who struggle with mental disorders such as bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder or self-destructive behavior. Students looking to treat patients with DBT independently as psychologists need a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in clinical psychology as well as additional training in DBT. This type of training is usually completed after graduation as a continuing education course through a university. Students learn the principles of DBT and how to apply them in a clinical environment. These programs are also offered to other healthcare professionals.

Students need a master's degree in psychology. Additionally, students may be asked to submit letters of recommendation as well as GRE entrance exam scores, a résumé and a written essay on why they want to pursue a doctorate in psychology. Clinical work is usually required through most programs.


Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology

Earning a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology is a starting point for individuals who want to specialize in DBT. Doctoral degree programs prepare students to function in community, clinical, research and academic environments. Students learn about the theory behind clinical psychology and DBT in a classroom setting and apply it during clinical practice under the guidance of trained psychologists.

Individuals looking to work as clinical psychologists who specialize in DBT may be confronted with issues regarding patient assessment and evaluation as well as patient intervention. Students investigate how to work with patients in order to understand and improve patients' well-being. Courses designed to prepare students include:

  • Behavior change
  • Assessment and evaluation
  • History of psychology
  • Social behavior

Dialectical Behavior Therapy Training

DBT training is offered as an extension or continuing education program at various universities. Programs are aimed towards registered nurses, licensed clinical social workers, marriage family therapists, educators, doctors, custody evaluators and psychologists. Students learn about DBT and its application in a clinical setting. Workshops may cover DBT's four skill modules--interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance and mindfulness.

Training courses are available to professionals and students who wish to know more about a particular area of psychotherapy. Students enrolled in a DBT training course learn basic concepts, practice strategies and principles of DBT. They also learn strategies of practical applications that are used in association with CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) interventions.


Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual wage for school, clinical and counseling psychologists was $85,340 in May 2018. Employment opportunities for all psychologists are expected to grow about 14% for the decade spanning 2018-2028 (www.bls.gov).

Licensure

Psychologists that treat patients in a clinical setting must be licensed. All states require licensure or certification. Requirements generally include earning a Ph.D. in psychology, completing an internship and obtaining 1-2 years of experience in the field. Applicants must then pass a state test to become licensed. Requirements and tests may vary according to the particular state.

Students interested in studying dialectical behavior therapy can start with a doctorate in clinical psychology and enroll in a DBT training program after graduation. Graduates will need to obtain state licensure to be practicing psychologists.

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