U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Correctional Adaptation of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) for Federally Sentenced Women

NCJ Number
Forum on Corrections Research Volume: 14 Issue: 2 Dated: May 2002 Pages: 36-39
Donna McDonagh; Kelly Taylor; Kelley Blanchette
Date Published
May 2002
4 pages
This article discusses Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for federally sentenced women.
DBT is a comprehensive psychotherapeutic approach for treating individuals struggling with severe emotional and behavioral problems. These problems include chronic suicidality, intentional self-harm, and extreme and problematic impulsive behavior. In DBT, synthesis or balance is sought on several levels: the key dialectic being acceptance on the one hand and change on the other. DBT includes specific strategies to promote acceptance and validation of the individual’s current capabilities and behavioral functioning. These are balanced by strategies for promoting change, such as problem solving and skills training, which teach the individual more adaptive ways of dealing with difficulties and assist in the acquisition of skills to accomplish this. DBT involves four treatment components: individual psychotherapy, skills training, telephone consultation (to provide support during a crisis), and therapist consultation. DBT has been applied in correctional/forensic settings and appears promising for assisting offenders with severe emotional and behavioral problems. Three Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) DBT models have been developed: Comprehensive DBT, for use with offenders residing in mental health units; General DBT, for offenders in general population; and Secure DBT, for maximum-security women offenders. A program evaluation framework has been integrated into the DBT model, using a multi-method, multi-wave, and qualitative and quantitative longitudinal study design. Preliminary evaluation of the DBT program is currently underway with the intention of determining any imminent successes, difficulties, or concerns the treatment may be presenting. 13 notes