Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills for Families of Individuals With Behavioral Disorders: Initial Feasibility and Outcomes

Chelsey R. Wilks, Helen Valenstein-Mah, Han Tran, Alexandra M.M. King, Anita Lungu, Marsha M. Linehan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Family members of individuals with behavioral disorders are a valuable source of logistical and emotional support for patients. Family members may take on tremendous financial and/or psychological responsibility to care for their loved ones, which can result in poor psychological outcomes for the family and, in turn, impede the recovery of the patient. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills training is an effective treatment that has been utilized with numerous populations, including family members of individuals with behavioral problems, and has shown efficacy in improving various interpersonal outcomes; however, no study has examined feasibility and outcomes of delivering all four unabridged DBT skills modules to this population. Twenty participants attended weekly DBT skills classes for 6 months, where they acquired skills in mindfulness, emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and distress tolerance. There were significant pre-post improvements for emotion dysregulation, stress reactivity, and various interpersonal outcomes; there were no significant changes in depression or anxiety. These results suggest that DBT skills may be effective at improving broad clinical domains in a sample of family members of individuals with behavioral problems. This research is the first step in demonstrating that DBT skills might benefit family members of patients with heterogeneous mental health problems and, therefore, fits in to the field's growing interest in cost-effective transdiagnostic interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)288-295
Number of pages8
JournalCognitive and Behavioral Practice
Volume24
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2017

Keywords

  • caretaking
  • dialectical behavior therapy
  • families
  • skills only

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