DBT Skills in Therapy

General Information

  • Presenter: Charles Swenson, M.D.
  • Dates: May 2, 3, and 4, 2022 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM Eastern Time.
  • FEE: $825. Pleaes contact us for special group and student rates.
  • Venue: Brooklyn, New York (KIngsway) OR Online Webinar

Includes full technical support (for online attendees), lunch and snacks (for live attendees), handouts, and CE credits. The training will be recorded. All participants will have access to recordings for 8 weeks. There is no known commercial support nor conflict of interest for this program. Please scroll to the bottom of this page for registration information.

DBT Skills in Therapy


At the core of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which is an evidence-based treatment for disorders of emotional dysregulation, are the DBT skills. Substantial research evidence points to the acquisition and use of the skills as the most important active ingredient in DBT. Therefore anybody who conducts DBT therapy must understand how to use and how to teach the skills effectively. In this workshop, the instructor will first orient the participants to the basics of DBT: principles, theory, evidence, appropriate patient populations, treatment targets, structure of the treatment, agreements, assumptions, and an overview of the wide range of strategies. Secondly, participants will learn how a DBT skills training group is structured and conducted. Finally, and most substantially, participants will be provided an overview of each of the four skills modules and an explanation of each skill within those modules. Teaching will include case examples, experiential exercises, and video demonstrations of treatment with skills.


Charlie Swenson, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at University of Massachusetts Medical School, attended Harvard College and Yale Medical School. He trained in psychiatry at Yale University and trained in psychoanalysis in New Haven, Connecticut. He directed long term inpatient and day treatment programs for individuals with borderline disorders from 1982 to 1996 for New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center in New York, including the development of a DBT inpatient program. He moved to Massachusetts in 1996 and accepted a faculty position at University of Massachusetts Medical School. He served as the Medical Director and Senior Psychiatrist of the Department of Mental Health in Western Massachusetts from 1997 to 2010. Since 1993 Dr. Swenson has conducted DBT, supervised DBT, implemented DBT, written about the topic, and trained thousands of others in DBT. He has been in private practice throughout his career, seeing adults, families, and adolescents in treatment. He has published more than twenty articles and chapters about DBT and the treatment of borderline disorders, and in 2016 published a book, DBT Principles in Action: Change, Acceptance, and Dialectics (Guilford Press).

Charlie lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, has a wife, Meredith Gould, who is a clinical psychologist, two boys, ages 23 and 27, and two dogs. In his private practice he teaches skills training groups and integrates skills into individual therapy. He has posted more than 80 1-hour podcasts about the uses of DBT to face life’s adversities. It is called To Hell and Back and can be found where podcasts are found and on his website, www.charlieswenson.com

DBT Skills in Therapy


At the conclusion of this program, participants will be better able to:

  1. Specify the rationale for the use of DBT.
  2. Identify appropriate patient populations for DBT.
  3. Enumerate the primary treatment targets in DBT in order of priority.
  4. Explain the bio-social theory in DBT, which accounts for the causation and the maintenance of problematic behavioral patterns.
  5. Provide an overview of the structure of DBT, including its stages, functions, modes, agreements, and assumptions.
  6. Identify the core strategy groups used to treat patients in DBT.
  7. Structure and conduct group skills training according to the DBT Skills Training Manual.
  8. Provide an overview of the four skills modules in DBT: core mindfulness skills, distress tolerance skills, emotion regulation skills, and interpersonal effectiveness skills.
  9. Explain the essence and the goals for use of core mindfulness skills
  10. Describe what is meant by “wise mind” in DBT’s core mindfulness skills and why this is so useful.
  11. Enumerate, practice, and teach the three “what skills” and the three “how skills” that make up the core mindfulness skills module.
  12. Explain the essence and the goals for distress tolerance skills.
  13. Enumerate, practice, and teach the “crisis survival strategies” within the distress tolerance skills module.
  14. Enumerate, practice, and teach the “reality acceptance skills” within the distress tolerance modules.
  15. Weave DBT skills, typically taught in group skills training, into the process of individual therapy.
  16. Explain the essence and the goals for use of emotion regulation skills.
  17. Articulate the DBT model of emotions, the functions of emotions, myths about emotions, cheerleading statements for regulating emotions, and reasons that emotion regulation is so difficult.
  18. Specify, practice, and teach the skills for transforming a current painful emotion: check the facts, problem-solving, and acting opposite the emotion.
  19. Specify and teach the skills for increasing emotional resiliency and reducing emotional vulnerability.
  20. Know what to do when the patient’s emotions are too disruptive for usual skills.
  21. Explain the essence and goals for use of interpersonal effectiveness skills.
  22. Orient a patient to the three priorities for emotional effectiveness for someone who is asking for something or saying no to an unwanted request.
  23. Teach the DEAR MAN scheme for getting one’s objective or effectively saying no in an interpersonal encounter.
  24. Teach the GIVE skills for preserving or improving a relationship.
  25. Use the FAST skills for preserving or improving self-respect in relationship encounters.
  26. Provide an overview of the “middle path” skills in relationships, using dialectics, validation, and problem-solving.
  • Application Deadline: May 1, 2022 or until all training spaces are filled, whichever comes first.
  • Notification of Acceptance: Applicants will be notified, via email, of acceptance when registration is complete and payment is received.
  • Refund/Cancellation Policy: Tuition/registration payments are refundable (minus $50) until April 2,2022. Cancellations after this date are non-refundable. In this situation, we will attempt to find someone to take your slot (based on our waiting list).
  • Course level: Introductory
  • Level of clinician: Introductory
  • Accessibility: Conference is hanicap accessible. If you require ADA accommodations, please contact our office 30 days or more before the event. We cannot ensure accommodations without adequate prior notification
The Grievance Policy for trainings provided by NEFESH INTERNATIONAL is available here. Please Note: Licensing Boards change regulations often, and while we attempt to stay abreast of their most recent changes, if you have questions or concerns about this course meeting your specific board’s approval, we recommend you contact your board directly to obtain a ruling.

CE Information

Continuing Education Credit is granted through Nefesh International for the following professions: Psychologists, Social workers, Mental Health Counselors, and LMFTs. It is the participant’s responsibility to check with their individual state boards to verify CE requirements for their state.

NEFESH International, Inc. is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Psychology as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed psychologists #PSY-0116.

NEFESH International is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed marriage and family therapists #MFT-0046

NEFESH International is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for Mental Health Counselor #MHC-0082

NEFESH International is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #SW-0048.

This program is co-sponsored by NEFESH International and Neuhoff Psychological Consulting . NEFESH International is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. NEFESH International, maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

Satisfactory Completion:

Participants must have paid the tuition fee, logged in and out each day, attended the entire webinar, and completed an evaluation to receive a certificate (for pre-recorded program, a post-test with a passing grade of 80% is required.) Failure to log in or out will result in forfeiture of credit for the entire course. No exceptions will be made. Partial credit is not available. Certificates are available electronically after satisfactory course completion. A link will be provided for those who have completed the training.


Linehan, M.M. (2015). DBT Skills Training Manual. New York: Guilford Press.

Linehan, M.M. (2015). DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets. New York: Guilford Press.

Swenson, C.R. (2016). DBT Principles in Action: Acceptance, Change, and Dialectics. New York: Guilford Press.

DBT Skills in Therapy


May 2, 2022 
8:30 – 10:15 a.m.

Mindfulness Practice

Orientation to Workshop

Overview of DBT Skills

DBT Skills and Behavioral Chains

Three Necessary Steps to Learn Skills

Core Mindfulness Skills Introduction

10:15 – 10:25 a.m.


10:25 – 11:55 a.m.

Core Mindfulness Skills

11:55 – 12:35 p.m.


12:35 – 2:20 p.m.

Distress Tolerance Skills: Introduction

Distress Tolerance Skills: Reality Acceptance

2:20 – 2:30 p.m.


2:30 – 4:00 p.m.

Distress Tolerance Skills: Surviving a Crisis

May 3, 2022 
8:30 – 10:15 a.m.

Mindfulness Practice

Emotion Regulation Skills: Introduction

10:15 – 10:25 a.m.Break
10:25 – 11:55 a.m.

Emotion Regulation Skills

Understanding and Naming Emotions

Model of Emotions

Changing Emotions

Reducing Emotional Vulnerability

Managing Really Difficult Emotions

11:55 – 12:35 p.m.Lunch
12:35 – 2:20 p.m.

Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills: Introduction

Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills: Determining Priorities and

Achieving Your Objectives

2:20 – 2:30 p.m.Break
2:30 – 4:00 p.m.

Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills: Building and Maintaining Relationships

Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills: Walking the Middle Path

May 4, 2022 
8:30 – 10:15 a.m.

Mindfulness Practice

F.A.V.O.R.: A Protocol for Coaching DBT Skills

10:15 – 10:30 a.m.Break
10:30 – 12:00 p.m.Ten Factors that Interfere with Learning and Practicing Skills
12:00 – 1:00 p.m.Lunch
1:00 – 2:45 p.m.Weaving Skills into Individual Therapy Sessions
2:45 – 3:00 p.m.Break
3:00 – 4:30 p.m.Question and Answer

DBT Skills in Therapy