DBT Pre-Treatment: The First Few Sessions

In most cases, after conducting an initial intake assessment, your first few individual DBT therapy sessions will involve your therapist reviewing DBT pre-treatment information. Pre-treatment, which usually takes about 4 sessions, is designed to orient you to more details about how DBT works so that you can get the most out of the program. In an ideal situation, you would finish all or at least most of pre-treatment before starting a skills group, though due to scheduling factors that is not always the case.

Pre-treatment sessions include learning about various topics that will help you digest the DBT material more easily. Topics generally include:

  • the different stages of treatment in DBT
  • the Biosocial Theory, which helps us understand why we may have our emotional and behavioral patterns based on our genetics and experiences
  • what outside-of-session phone coaching is, and how it works
  • setting up DBT diary cards help to help us track our emotions and behaviors
  • discussing Life Worth Living goals, or the things that make life worth it when it is really hard or painful
  • reviewing patient and clinician expectations and agreements
  • and collaboratively developing treatment plans to match each individual’s goals

These first few sessions also provide time to build rapport with your therapist, as you start to get to know more about them, and they start to get to know more about you.


To learn more about DBT and the services provided at DBT Center of Orange County, feel free to give us a call at 949-480-7767.


Written by, Kevin Rowen PsyD

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