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Letter from the President's Desk - May

Hello all,

Our spring issue of Certification Matters coincides with and highlights the retirement of our illustrious leader and treatment developer, Marsha M. Linehan. Her work and findings have been such an inspiration and transformation for so many and her recognition in the special edition of Time magazine, “Great Scientists: The Geniuses and Visionaries Who Transformed Our World” was truly deserved. Marsha was involved in the creation of the DBT-Linehan Board of Certification and continues to value our work and your efforts towards certification. Many of you have contributed to the DBT Donations Where Needed fund in her honor to sustain our organization. We thank you for that and there is still time to add to our acknowledgement of what her dedication and service have meant to us all.

May is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) awareness month and our Public Board member, Christina Kallas, provides us with a timely and heartfelt piece on BPD and the central place of the DBT-Linehan Board of Certification in the continued efforts to address this public health problem. Also highlighted is one of our newly certified DBT therapists and her personal journey to certification. Check out the Latest News on the website also for constant updates.

Sadly, we say goodbye to one of our own, Sarah Stelzner who left us too soon. Please see on our website, the tribute to her and her wonderful family and her contributions to her profession and to DBT-LBC.

Please know that DBT-LBC is dedicated to providing the most valuable certification credential, accurately assessed and to make it known that it makes a difference to have earned and maintained it. Remember, the updated Applicant Handbook is available for download and provides the answers to your questions about the certification process. 

We’d love to hear from you if you have any ideas to share. Use the Contact Us link on the website. It is checked every business day and we will get back to you. Thanks so much for your investment on behalf of delivering a treatment that truly saves lives.

Very sincerely

Thoughts from our Public Member - Chris Kallas

May is BPD Awareness Month. Thanks largely to the efforts of NEA BPD, on April 1, 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution 1005, which recognized the month of May as Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month. The vote was 414-0. (Nope, not a typo; even Congress was able to recognize the challenges of this disorder.)

In the past eleven years, some things have not changed. Those with this disorder, and their families, often feel lost, wondering what is wrong, and what to do about it. We still, in this country and around the globe, don’t understand how to recognize mental illness ‘up front’, and how to treat it effectively and early on, so as to minimize its negative consequences. The feeling of isolation that results, of not being ‘normal’, of not fitting in, creates enormous suffering. The need to find effective treatment is a challenge that is daunting, even for those of us who are educated, and who have access to affordable medical care, and who are in areas where treatment is available.

Some things have changed. In 2013, the DBT Linehan Board of Certification was established. Since DBT therapy is the most effective treatment for BPD to date, it made sense to identify those professionals who were practicing it the way Dr. Linehan studied it, so that it was most likely to be most effective. Most states have basic licensing requirements for mental health care providers, but don’t set standards for different types of treatments. So people who practiced in the field decided that they would take on the task of assuring compliance with the DBT paradigm at its best, and the DBT Linehan Certification Board was formed.

Those of us who live in the world of BPD with a loved one sometimes feel that we would do anything to live on a different planet. The stress is never-ending, and often overwhelming. Many years ago I met Dr. Alan Fruzzetti, a mental health practitioner who lives in “BPD World.” He was always smiling, and he always had a suggestion about how to deal with whatever challenge was in front of me. I asked him once, “Why do you do this? Why do you voluntarily work with people who can be so challenging, so angry, so hard to make progress with?” He looked at me as if I had missed the whole point, and said, “But they are so interesting, so intelligent, so creative!”

I have now met so many professionals who treat people with BPD. You are so often extraordinary in this way of Dr. Fruzzetti. You choose to deal with challenges that would overwhelm lesser people. So this May, as far as I am concerned, is also BPD Treaters’ Awareness Month. To those of you on the front lines, who do so much to help our loved ones, I offer a salute, and a heartfelt thank you for all that you do. Please keep up the good work!

May is Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month – A Volunteer/Clinician’s Perspective

         Nicholas L. Salsman, PhD, ABPP; DBT-Linehan Board of Certification, Certified DBT Clinician™

May is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Awareness Month and DBT-LBC is an organization dedicated to reducing the suffering of individuals with BPD.  As a DBT-LBC certified clinician and volunteer, I believe that this organization helps to save the lives of those who are suffering, particularly those with BPD.  I choose to volunteer my time to this organization because I believe that the mission of DBT-LBC is critical.  First of all, I want to extend my thanks to all of those who join me in donating time and money to this organization.  Without your help, we could not fight so well to get state of the art treatment to individuals with BPD.  Secondly, I would like to extend an invitation to all who are called to advance this mission to donate.  We still have a long way to go to get DBT to all of the people who need it.

 DBT is the gold standard treatment for BPD.  It is a treatment that science has proven to be effective for reducing the suffering of individuals who severely need it.  It helps people who may believe that death by suicide is their only choice to alleviate their pain.  As a clinician, it is a privilege to be able to work with individuals who are diagnosed with BPD as they journey out of hell and into lives worth living.  I have also worked with individuals with BPD who come to me believing that they have been through DBT, when they actually have not had DBT practiced in an adherent fashion.  Sometimes these non-adherent treatments have led individuals down a path where they spend more and more time suffering without receiving the help that they need.  It takes time to educate these individuals about why the treatment they received was not actually DBT and how participating in adherent treatment is completely different and worth their time.

 The volunteers of DBT-LBC work tirelessly to ensure that DBT can be delivered in an adherent manner to those who need it most.  The clinicians and programs who complete the LBC certification process have demonstrated through a rigorous process that they have knowledge of and practice adherence to the DBT model that has been scientifically proven time and time again to help those with BPD and others.  We need more clinicians and programs who are fully equipped to help those who suffer with BPD. 

 Volunteers and donors are the heart and lifeblood of DBT-LBC.  To inquire about volunteering, please send an email to  In honor of BPD awareness month, please also, join me in making a financial contribution to the DBT-Linehan Board of Certification.  You can do so by clicking this link  and scrolling down and clicking on the “Donate” button under the text “Donate to the DBT-LBC: Where Needed Most”.  Please give what you can and encourage others to do so as well. 

 (Please note that the funds are initially deposited to the Linehan Institute because they are a 501c3 charitable organization and can make your donation tax deductible for you.  They then send your donation to DBT-LBC, a non-profit 501c6 organization.)

My Path Toward Certification – Emily Vanderpool M.S., LPC

Everyone has their own path that led them to become a DBT-LBC clinician. For me, it all started with autism. I grew up with a brother who was diagnosed with high functioning autism, and I witnessed first-hand the emotional difficulties that individuals with these diagnoses face as they navigate life in a neuro-typical world. Thus, I sought a career in which I could provide support to people with high functioning developmental disabilities who otherwise might fall through the cracks of the system. This led me to receive my master’s degrees in both clinical mental health counseling and applied behavior analysis (ABA).

Meanwhile, I was working as a program therapist at a partial hospitalization for children and adolescents entitled Daybreak Treatment Center. The program’s founder and clinical director, Dr. Garry Del Conte, “Dr.D.”, had just introduced the therapists to DBT and we began meeting weekly for what would become a DBT consultation group. I was sent to the DBT Foundational Training, where my understanding and capacity for the application of DBT grew immensely, and then things really started to click. Not only was DBT working with my clients, but it also utilized the exact principles of behavior change that are inherent in an ABA approach that I learned about in studying interventions for the developmental disabilities populations. I was able to apply my training in ABA to more effectively implement the principles in DBT, and I was also able to enact change from a more dialectical, flexible stance that kept my clients engaged in the treatment.

The client who I used for my case formulation for my DBT-LBC application was a 15 year old, female client who had an extensive history of cutting, suicidality, and thought disturbance. After 7 weeks at the PHP level of care and then several months of outpatient , she was able to maintain zero rates of suicidal or NSSI behaviors and had eliminated thought disturbances across several months. I owe such successful outcomes to DBT. It clearly works. It saves lives, and I believe that it certainly saved my client’s.

Now I can proudly claim to be a member of the DBT-LBC club, and I have so much gratitude for Marsha’s brilliance and courage; an appreciation that is magnified as we collectively honor her retirement this month. I can only hope to “give back” by raising awareness and disseminating this life-saving treatment to other therapists, clients, schools, parents, and even my friends and family. It is a great privilege.


Letter from the President's Desk - March

Hello all,
It is hard to contain my enthusiasm for all the wonderful people who volunteer their time and efforts and all the tasks being accomplished at DBT-LBC. 

The Board of Directors met for their first quarterly 2019 meeting and one item on the agenda was our annual Board elections. Dr. Suzanne Witterholt has been re-elected as Vice President and Todd Figura, JD was elected as Treasurer. He steps into the position formerly held by Randy Wolbert, who remains an active and valued Board member. We also voted to add members to the Board, filling the remaining 3 seats allowed by our bylaws. Joining us as At-Large Board Members are Melanie Harned, Ph.D, Dan Finnegan, MSW, and Kimberly Vay, Ed.D. We appreciate their contributions to the field of DBT, their valuing and support of Certification and their willingness to serve on the board. We are thrilled to have them and encourage you to please congratulate and thank them for their service.

Speaking of service, it was uplifting to see all of you at the ISITDBT meeting in Washington DC in November. I think there were about 443 people there. Taking advantage of having many of our over 60 volunteers all in one place, DBT-LBC hosted the first session of DBT-Leadership, Strategies and Future Directions for certification. Over 40 of us met for about 5 hours of small group work and some important projects are now underway. We explored the areas of legislative efforts, research on aspects of certification, communications and fundraising, and Maintenance of Certification. These four work groups are now reviewing what has been developed and proposing any new directions or changes that might be necessary. We will keep you posted.

Many of you participate on the DBT List Serve. As always, I am so appreciative of the many thoughtful and thought-provoking ideas posted there. With the recent national news on the high rates of suicide in our country, Josh Smith began a thread that all of us need to be aware of. I’ve included the link here in case you are not on the List Serve.
What has followed this is a discussion about the implications of this article and others. Linda Dimeff shared a relevant article also that I would encourage you to look into.
How does all this relate to certification? There needs to be spokespersons to advocate for effective treatment of this most vulnerable population. Who better to do that than DBT-LBC Certified Clinicians? As an organization we are working to advocate for the credential and its value to consumers, family members, states, insurance companies and even at the federal level. We are making inroads and slow progress in this area and won’t stop until we have educated, informed and motivated appropriate actions to provide the needed treatment and compensation.

Please know that DBT-LBC is dedicated to providing the most valuable certification credential, accurately assessed and to make it known that it makes a difference to have earned and maintained it. Please check the website regularly as we are updating it and post important news there. The newly updated Applicant Handbook is available for download. 

We’d love to hear from you if you have any ideas to share. Use the Contact Us link on the website. It is checked every business day and we will get back to you. Thanks so much for your investment on behalf of delivering a treatment that truly saves lives.

Very sincerely,


 Many of you know of the existence of the Family Connections program. Run under the auspices of NEA BPD, The National Education Alliance for BPD, Family Connections is a program for family members of people who have BPD. Every year end, my co-facilitator and I gear up for a new Family Connections group starting in January. It is always a moving experience to meet the new group members. These family members have tried everything they can think of to help their loved one with BPD, and often, it just doesn’t seem to have made much of a difference. When they arrive at the first group session, they are often frazzled, exhausted, dispirited, and fearful of the future. Over the course of 12 weeks, many of them start to have a little hope. We teach them about BPD, and they start to realize that the behavior that their loved one engages in is a result of a disorder, not a willful or malicious desire.

We teach them some of the DBT skills, and they suddenly have new tools at their disposal. They come into the group and say things like, “I tried what you suggested - and it worked!” They are surprised, pleased, and - most importantly - empowered in a new, life altering way. They say things like, “You know, I tried using that skill with my boss - and it worked!” So they are able to generalize the skills to other relationships in their world. They learn to be less hard on themselves when the skills don’t work with their loved ones. And they use the skills to ease, or at least tolerate, their own distress.

Many of them start to do things for themselves, things that they have put aside for their care-taking duties: going on dates, and taking vacations. You can see the result: their bodies are slightly more relaxed, and they remember the capacity for laughter, especially at the absurdity that we sometimes experience as humans in relationships of all kinds.  Humor is such a powerful tool! In the beginning of my journey down this BPD road, I remember watching Dr. Linehan speak, and thinking to myself that her ability to be irreverent, and to laugh, was key to her ability to address this disorder, which can seem so powerfully destructive.  So please, remember the DBT protocols, and do your very best to comply with them. And don’t forget to be irreverent, when needed. I’m always more effective when I follow that part of the protocol.

For more information on the Family Connections program, or to refer your clients to sign up for the group, see the NEA BPD website at:


Letter from the President's Desk - November

Hello all,
This is the time of year when we consider the many blessing we have in our lives. Often, we get so bogged down with responsibilities, challenges and the demands of our daily lives that we don’t stop often enough to cherish the positives. That’s true here at the DBT-Linehan Board of Certification too. We are running full tilt to get things accomplished and sometimes it just feels overwhelming. Especially with everything that is happening right now. If we were successful in getting this newsletter out before ISITDBT, you will hear and see more about our efforts at that gathering. Please say hi to the many volunteers you will recognize by the ribbons attached to their name tags. And stop by our table in the Poster Session for information and to ask questions.

Scholarships!! We are so appreciative of the funding that allows us to offer scholarship aid of $270 to applicants for Clinician certification and up to $2000 for those applying for Program certification. You can still do an “end of year” tax deductible donation via the Linehan Institute website directly to DBT-LBC in any of three categories – the two scholarship funds and the “where needed” operations fund. Thanks!

Apply for Program Certification NOW! We have five scholarships available for 2018! If you start your application before the end of the year you could be considered for one of them. And then in January another five are available for 2019! With 10 scholarships available, check out the eligibility requirements Talk to any of the professionals who are part of certified programs and hear first-hand what an amazing experience it was for them and their teams. We have had extremely positive responses from every Team we have visited. Yes, it takes effort to accomplish, and, every program reports becoming stronger having gone through the process.

We have welcomed a new member to the Board of Directors. Christina Kallas, J.D., who has joined the Board as our new Public Member. She is replacing Regina Piscatelli. We thank Regina and wish her well and are so happy to have another Public Member who has firsthand experience of the value of DBT for a loved one and the need to be able to identify providers who deliver it with fidelity to the treatment model. Chris has jumped in with both feet and is already contributing in a number of important ways.

Our recruitment efforts to grow the number of adherence coding volunteers has been working. We have new coders added to the team and are tackling a backlog that has challenged those waiting in the queue as well as those of us focused on customer service. If you would like to consider becoming a calibrated video adherence coder, let us know through the Contact Us link on the website.

A group of colleagues came together for a discussion of DBT Leadership, Strategies and Future directions. We hope ideas generated there help broaden interest in DBT-LBC as well as add value to your certification credential. Stay tuned for updates.

Thank you all for your support, encouragement, contributions and dedication to the mission of DBT-LBC. DBT is a life-saving, life-enriching treatment when done well. We appreciate the work every clinician is doing in learning and delivering adherent DBT.

Happy Holidays to you all. Cherish your loved ones. May 2019 be good to you.

All the best,

Dr. Joan Russo
DBT-Linehan Board of Certification

Clinical trial shows dialectical behavior therapy effectiveness in reducing risk in suicidal adolescents.
Adapted from • Science Update, June 27, 2018
Researchers at the University of Washington, Seattle Children’s Research Institute, and collaborators at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor- University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Center, and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA have published findings from a year’s long RTC showing that DBT reduce suicide attempts and suicidal behavior in adolescents.
For this study, Elizabeth McCauley, Ph.D., and colleagues enrolled youth ages 12-18 who were at risk for suicide. The adolescents entering the study had attempted suicide at least once, had a history of repeated self-injury, and had trouble with emotional control—for example, unstable, intense, and often negative moods. Youth entering the trial were randomly assigned to either DBT or a comparison treatment, individual and group-supported therapy (IGST).
By the end of the first six months of the trial, suicide attempts and non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) were significantly less likely in youth receiving DBT than those receiving IGST. Self-harm, which combines both suicide attempts and NSSI, was about a third as likely in DBT recipients compared with those in IGST. Of 65 youth randomly assigned to IGST who completed the end of treatment assessment, 9 had one suicide attempt and 5 had two or more; out of 72 assigned to DBT, 6 had one suicide attempt and 1 had two or more.
Twelve months after the trial began, rates of self-harm had declined in both groups; the rate was still lower in the DBT group, but the difference was not great enough—given the number of participants in the trial—to be statistically significant. Nonetheless, the benefit seen in the first months potentially saved lives; the authors point out that clinical trials of greater size or length may demonstrate a more sustained advantage to DBT and may assess whether altering components of the therapy could increase its effectiveness.
Another finding of the study was that youth receiving DBT attended more treatment sessions and were more likely to complete DBT treatment (attend at least 24 individual sessions) than youth receiving IGST. The greater success in this respect of DBT may have been an element in the difference in treatment effectiveness relative to IGST.
McCauley E et al. Efficacy of dialectical behavior therapy for adolescents at high risk for suicide: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Psychiatry. 2018 June 20. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.1109.

Greetings from a new Board Member

I am honored to have been selected to be the new Public Member of the Board.

Like many family members of people with BPD, my husband and I were often highly challenged by the difficulty in understanding our loved one. Then we discovered that there was a new treatment: something called “DBT.” So I went out and bought ‘the book’, and started to read it. At the end of Chapter one, I thought to myself, “This author gets my daughter”, and I continued reading all the way to the end - no mean feat for someone who hadn’t studied psychology since freshman year of college.

We are by no means the only family that feels as if DBT has been key in keeping our family afloat. Our daughter said to us many years ago, “Whatever treatment I get, it has to have a DBT base; that is what will save me.” We believe that she was correct.

We live in NYC, so there are DBT therapists available. The ones we have worked with are wonderful, true life-changers. But the more we spoke with other people who were in similar shoes, the more we realized that good DBT therapists don’t grow on trees, and finding one who is a good fit can be quite an undertaking, even in NYC.

So many of our loved ones have been through therapies of different types, and found those therapies not helpful. There is no way to move forward through BPD with a therapist you don’t trust; you just stay stuck.

So those of you who are therapists, who are seeking to become certified, please know that the people you serve, and their families, value you immensely, even if we don’t always say it to you.

Making sure that DBT therapists are properly trained and supported in an appropriate, team-oriented environment, is - to me - the number two health crisis in the United States today (after we figure out how to pay you what you are worth, or even something close to that.) So making sure that individual DBT therapists and DBT programs are properly practicing could not be more important to me and my family.

I look forward to working with the Board to ensure that our therapists and programs are properly trained and given all the support that they need, much of which is inherent in the DBT protocol itself.

Thank you for all that you do.


Christina Kallas, J.D.
DBT-Linehan Board of Certification
Public Member


Why did you go through the Clinician Certification process?

When asked, “What made you want to go for DBT-Linehan Board Certification?,” Jacqueline Stratton, MSW, LICSW and now DBT-Linehan Board of Certification, Certified Clinician and Founder of MN DBT Providers Coalition LLC, said, “I thought it would be kinda cool,” and “Why not try something that would enhance my practice and take my skills to the next level?” She had had some time to travel and the opportunity for certification arose. Shortly after she had applied to take the test her mother became ill and her father in law died. Certification was one way for her to cope with these situations. Jacqueline was one of the original test takers in Philadelphia and recalled high anxiety with this step. She found that during the process of certification and deciding to learn how to pass the case formulation step, she became a better practitioner. She was able to think about clients, their life worth living goals, treatment targets and treating these targets with more clarity, precision, and compassion. Recording herself and her sessions was initially quite aversive to her, and while using her own skills to manage this aversion, found a sense of increased accountability to DBT. She was more motivated to be sure that she was following DBT’s principles and protocols and felt she became a more effective DBT Therapist. She also shared that it was exciting to record sessions and recording added to her relationships with clients, including more intimacy. She would like to say a big “Thank you!” to Marsha Linehan, Suzanne Witterholt, and Bev Long.  


Letter from the President's Desk - September

Hello everyone! There are so many exciting things going on at the DBT-Linehan Board of Certification. One place I would really like to start, though, is to extend a truly heartfelt thank you to all the behind the scenes volunteers that make our organization work. There are those who are visible, like the Board of Directors and committee chairpersons/members. But, most importantly, there are those who are invisible, behind the scenes, handling confidential materials and doing their jobs with no recognition and therefore little thanks. Our adherence coders are so dedicated and devote hours to each and every applicant’s work to assure that the treatment aspect they are reviewing is following Dr. Linehan’s treatment manuals. Can you imagine reading each and every Case Conceptualization and having to score it from multiple perspectives with consistency, accuracy and fairness each and every time? And to code videos of therapy sessions, not only for what IS there, but also what is missing that makes the session non-adherent? And, our application review team invests a lot of time assuring an applicant is truly ready to pursue the certification process. There are so many dedicated people working to assure our certification process is comprehensive and meaningful. You aren’t merely saying you read a book or attended a workshop or training. If you are participating in DBT-LBC’s certification processes, you are demonstrating your knowledge, skills and abilities to deliver DBT as researched by Dr. Linehan and colleagues. And it is those volunteers behind the scenes that make that privilege of using the designation – DBT-Linehan Board of Certification, Certified DBT Clinician – possible. THANK YOU, dear volunteers.

If you haven’t already noticed there are additions to the website and more to come. The Applicant Handbook has been updated, so you might want to take a look at that.  We are working on making the whole Program Certification process clearer with additional guidelines and handouts available. Our Individual Clinician scholarship fund has grown, thanks to the contributions of all our colleagues who want to help others be able to afford the costs of certification. Program Certification scholarships continue to be available and we encourage you to check out the criteria for applying for that. Many programs are eligible, so take a look at the criteria listed.

We have the wonderful ISITDBT conference coming up in November in Washington, DC. I hope to see many of you there. Please say “Hi” and give a thank you to anyone with a Volunteer ribbon on their nametag! We need our volunteers. Have you thought of joining the team? Let us know through Contact Us on the website. We will be in touch.

One final note for now. As of the publication of this newsletter, DBT-LBC has formally applied for Accreditation through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies – NCCA. This is very important to you and we will explain that more once we earn that recognition. For now, I just want to thank the very small committee, led by Dr. Bev Long, for the person hours of dedication it has taken to bring this to fruition. The documentation that this has taken has made our organization even stronger and better equipped to offer you a top quality, high-stakes certification credential. We are committed to the legacy of Dr. Marsha Linehan, who stands out as a Great Scientist, for all the work she has done in the mental health field. Her dedication to the most vulnerable consumers in mental health has been a true gift. We believe getting certified in this treatment is valuable too.

Thanks everyone!

Dr. Joan Russo

Starting Certification? Grab Your Handbook!

Your DBT-Linehan Board of Certification makes available the Clinician Applicant Handbook which you can download at Our goal for this handbook is to explain the process of certification from beginning to end as well as describe the requirements for maintaining the proficiencies and status as a DBT-Linehan Board of Certification, Certified DBT Clinician™. The Handbook was recently updated.

Need a little Inspiration to get Certified?

Consider that DBT's developer, Marsha Linehan, has been profiled in the just released 2018 edition of TIME magazine's Great Scientists. TIME's list of the 100, "geniuses, eccentrics, and visionaries who transformed our world" included Marsha along with such luminaries as Jonas Salk, Marie Curie, Louis Pasteur, Charles Darwin, Margaret Mead, Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton. Marsha has earned several recent major awards for her research and clinical work in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, including the 2015 Scientific Research Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Behavioral & Cognitive Therapies and, in 2017, the prestigious University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Psychology. Needless to say, as a DBT-Linehan Board of Certification, Certified Clinician™ you will be in fabulous company!

Annual Report 2018 


Dr. Marsha Linehan, PhD, ABPP, developed Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) over thirty years ago to meet the needs of individuals who were chronically suicidal, repeatedly engaged in self-harm, were difficult to treat, and who had multiple mental health diagnoses, including Borderline Personality Disorder. DBT is an evidence-based treatment that has been subjected to rigorous clinical research trials, both by the treatment developer herself as well as colleagues not affiliated with her university lab, demonstrating repeatedly that it is effective in reducing suicide attempts, reducing self-harm, reducing inpatient hospital days, and reducing costs for treating these individuals while increasing their quality of life.

About 15 years ago, Dr. Linehan received requests from consumers and payers who wanted to know how to identify providers who delivered DBT adherently (according to the model Dr. Linehan developed and researched), so that they were more likely to have positive outcomes. She was convinced by them that she needed to develop a way to certify that clinicians and programs who indicated they offered DBT were capable of delivering it with fidelity to the model.

An initial effort was begun that culminated in the formation of the DBT-Linehan Board of Certification (DBT-LBC™) in February, 2013 as a non-profit 501c6 organization. Bylaws were created and the initial Board of Directors was formed along with a number of committees made up of dedicated volunteers that understood the value and importance of this effort.


The DBT-LBC™ has been blessed with high quality professionals and volunteers that have been the backbone of our success. Many subject matter experts were critical in the development of our current exam and product knowledge assessments. Professionals in certification, psychometrics, business, technology and law were instrumental in the startup and continued development of the organization. In this annual report, we would like to recognize all the volunteers that have participated on the Board of Directors and committees (Fundraising, Scholarship, Program Certification, Item Writing & Test Development, Communications, Legislative, Accreditation Application and Applicant Handbook and Website Development Committees). Without their passion, dedication, work and time commitments, we would not be where we are today. A big THANK YOU to those before and to these current volunteers:

Marsha Linehan, Ph.D., Joan Russo, Ph.D., Suzanne Witterholt, M.D., Randy Wolbert, M.S.W, Henry Schmidt III, Ph.D., Kathryn Korslund, Ph.D., Andre Ivanoff, Ph.D., Regina Piscitelli, Todd Figura, J.D., Beth Lewis, L.M.H.C., Shari Manning, Ph.D., Bev Long, Psy.D., Alex Chapman, Ph.D., Annie McCall, MA, LMHC, Erin Miga, Ph.D., Emily Cooney, Ph.D., Jesse Homan, LPC, Jennifer Sayrs, Ph.D., Suhadee Henriquez, LCSW, Chris Conley, M.S.W., RSW, Nick Salsman, Ph.D., Nancy Gordon, M.S.W, Nikki Winchester, Psy.D., Candace Tomes, Psy.D., April Sobieralski, Psy.D., Melanie Uy, Psy.D., Joseph Morger, Alec Miller, Ph.D., Cindy Mancini, Ph.D., Juliet Nelson, Ph.D., John Bickel, LCSW, Sarah Stelzner, LCSW, Mandy Hyland, LICSW, Janice Kuo, Ph.D., Neal Moglowsky, LPC, Kim Skerven, Psy.D., Sylvia Davidson, Psy.D, Dan Finnegan, LICSW, Kay Segal, Psy.D., Andrew White, Psy.D., Jean Chambers, Barbara Petty, Monte DeBoer, Garry del Conte, Psy.D., and Catherine Johanneck, MSW, LICSW.


As we look forward to the future our focus is centered through our vision, mission & core values. Our messaging is quite clear as we continuously strive for improvement in all that we do and represent.

     Assure high quality DBT mental health services that save lives while reducing overall health costs.

     Provide a source that clearly identifies providers and programs that reliably offer evidence-based DBT.

Core Values:
     " Ethical - scrupulously follows the ethical principles of the mental health field
     " Unbiased - Offers certification without bias or discrimination of any kind to all clinicians and/or programs that demonstrate proficiencies that meet DBT-LBC's standards.
     " Effective - Develops and maintains a quality certification program; assesses the outcomes and effects of certification on mental health service delivery.
     " Life-saving - Monitors research on DBT as any modifications to the evidence-based treatment evolve and updates certification processes to reflect any needed changes.
     " Compassionate - Supports the clinicians and programs that treat often rejected consumers.
     " Fabulous - the hallmark outcome desired by Dr. Marsha Linehan.

"Effective Compassion" is our tagline and succinctly defines our objective.

Our message is being distributed through our website, our e-newsletter - Certification Matters, our Facebook page, DBT Listservs, professional state DBT groups, state and national DBT advocacy agencies and at national, state and local conferences and meetings.

Certification Emblem Value

New Certification Emblems were created and are now being used by those certified. These emblems represent and recognize those that stand out in their field and are committed to adherent DBT. The value of these emblems is now being recognized by the profession and most importantly the public consumers of this life saving therapy.


DBT-LBC™ will soon be profitable on its own operational basis, but through the dedication of its volunteers and other donors who are committed to our success, DBT-LBC™ has had a positive bottom line for the last few years. A few recent significant donations have provided us with operational funding and allowed us to have a reserve for developing scholarship programs for potential applicants in need.

Since its inception, DBT-LBC™ has slowly grown each year and is becoming recognized throughout the US and around the world as the high-stakes certification standard for DBT clinicians and programs. Despite efforts by some to adapt and modify DBT in ways inconsistent with the research, DBT-LBC™ has maintained the high standards of the treatment and maintains the endorsement of the treatment developer. In the US, the state of Minnesota has recognized DBT-LBC™ as a state-approved certification body for their state's DBT programs, which, if certified, receive higher reimbursement rates for providing DBT to their state's public health consumers. DBT-LBC™ is using Minnesota's program as a legislative "model" for other interested states to adopt. This will have positive effects on the quality of DBT therapy offered along with facilitating the potential for better treatment outcomes, thereby reducing overall mental health services costs. As more states adopt this model through our educational and promotional efforts, more clinicians and programs will see the value and importance and want to become certified.

Obtaining NCCA Accreditation for DBT-LBC™'s Clinician Certification is an important step that shows our commitment to high quality certification standards to benefit the clinician, their programs and most importantly their clients. We will be submitting our NCCA Accreditation Application in August, 2018.

We hope that you will join us in our endeavors and vision to "Assure high quality DBT mental health services that save lives while reducing overall health costs."

Joan Russo, Ph.D. President

DBT-Linehan Board of Certification

Earlier posts

Another new scholarship for Clinician Certification Too

My name is Nick Salsman and I am a DBT-LBC certified clinician, as well as a volunteer for the DBT-LBC fundraising committee. I choose to volunteer my time to this organization because I believe that the mission of DBT-LBC is critical. This issue of Certification Matters is dedicated to May being Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Awareness Month. In honor of BPD Awareness Month, I am proud to announce that DBT-LBC is launching a new scholarship fund for clinicians seeking individual certification.

DBT is the gold standard treatment for BPD. It is a treatment that science has proven to be effective for reducing the suffering of individuals who severely need it. It helps people who may believe that death by suicide is their only choice to alleviate their pain. As a clinician, it is a privilege to be able to work with individuals who are diagnosed with BPD as they journey out of hell and into lives worth living. I have also worked with individuals with BPD who come to me believing that they have been through DBT, when they actually have not had DBT practiced in an adherent fashion. Sometimes these non-adherent treatments have led individuals down a path where they spend more and more time suffering without receiving the help that they need. It takes time to educate these individuals about why the treatment they received was not actually DBT and how participating in adherent treatment is completely different and worth their time.

The mission of DBT-LBC is to ensure that this treatment can be delivered in an adherent manner to those who need it most. The clinicians who complete the LBC certification process have demonstrated through a rigorous process that they have knowledge of and practice adherence to the DBT model that has been scientifically proven time and time again to help those with BPD and others. Having this certification provides assurance to the public that can help guide them to find the treatment that is needed. We need clinicians who are fully equipped to help those who suffer with BPD. The new individual certification scholarship fund will help increase accessibility of certification to all clinicians and thus increase accessibility of treatment from certified clinicians to all clients. DBT-LBC will be awarding scholarships of $270 to those who are dedicated to this mission, particularly those who serve the underserved. The process for applying for these scholarships can now be accessed by

Please join me in donating to the Clinician Certification Scholarship Fund. You can do so by clicking this link This is a new fund that we want to grow continually. Please give what you can and encourage others to do so as well.

(Please note that the funds are initially deposited to the Linehan Institute only because they are a 501c3 charitable organization and can make your donation tax deductible for you. They have generously offered to help DBT-LBC in this way; they then send a deposit of 100% of your donation to DBT-LBC for the scholarship fund.)

New scholarships available for DBT-LBC Program Certification
The DBT-Linehan Board of Certification is pleased to announce the availability of The Michael Chambers Memorial Scholarship Fund (MCMS). This fund was initiated to increase access to certification and to help address financial barriers which could interfere with prospective programs becoming DBT-LBC certified. The scholarship is particularly seeking to fund DBT Programs which are small in size, and/or primarily serving low income, disenfranchised or marginalized individuals. The eligible awardees receive a $2000 scholarship towards the Program Certification fees. Additional information around eligibility criteria and the application process can be found on the Program Certification Information page on the website: link: The Scholarship committee is intent on increasing community access to DBT-LBC Certified Programs and further increasing knowledge around the importance of certification, with a goal of awarding five scholarships per year. Efforts are also underway to add to and grow the current level of funding in the MCMS to sustain scholarship availability for years to come.

The desire and demand for DBT has never been higher as this treatment continues to be disseminated world-wide for increasing numbers of client populations and in varied settings. Many DBT clinicians and programs are well trained and are doing excellent work. At the same time, many of us have had the experience of meeting a new client who shares the experience of “already doing DBT- it didn’t help!” While even experts have some occasional clinical outcomes that are less than positive, it has become evident that there are some clinicians and programs that are not delivering adherent, comprehensive DBT as developed by the treatment developer, Dr. Marsha Linehan. The risk is significant as substandard treatment fails to help those in need, increases feelings of hopelessness around treatment in general, increases risk of negative outcomes, and may bias individuals against a treatment which could be life-changing.

To address this growing concern, several years ago the DBT-Linehan Board of Certification (DBT-LBC), with the active participation and endorsement of Dr. Linehan, created a DBT Clinician Certification process to help prospective clients, families, and other professionals identify practitioners who had demonstrated the knowledge and ability to deliver adherent DBT. We are extraordinarily happy to report that the DBT-LBC launched the Program Certification arm of the process in mid-2017.

The goal of Program Certification is to support and encourage a proliferation of DBT programs providing adherent treatment. Importantly, it provides a ‘roadmap’ for programs to follow, highlighting critical elements that should be present in every DBT program – both organizationally to support the clinicians in delivering the treatment as well as clinically to review that all elements of the treatment are present. The review process, done by two trained Site Reviewers, offers feedback to the Program that discriminates between recommendations to the program that must be addressed for the program to be certified and suggestions, which may offer improvements that motivated programs might value implementing but are not required for the program to be certified. The awarding of DBT-LBC Program Certification indicates that the program has the structure and practices consistent with the delivery of a comprehensive implementation of Dialectical Behavior Therapy. It has undergone an extensive review that consists of scoring of responses to a Program Fidelity Scale questionnaire, program document and file review to see the structure of the DBT program, interviews with treatment providers and clients, and on-site observations of the DBT program practices in action. Programs are encouraged to address deficiencies using the recommendations and continue with the site review process to ultimate certification. Thus, Program Certification is another element in the broad set of resources for clinicians and programs implementing DBT.
For a DBT Program to be eligible to apply for certification, the Team Leader must have completed DBT-LBC certification as an individual Clinician. The Team Leader will be the person responsible for completing the application on line. We suggest that every program considering applying first complete the Program Fidelity Scale (PFS) This document will help you preview the expectations and understand the degree to which you currently meet the requirements and whether you are ready to start the program certification process. This is an overall review of your program and gives you confidence that those expectations will be met.

The Program Certification application is only accessed through a Certified Clinician's DBT-LBC online profile. To get a good understanding of what is required in Program Certification and its application, please see the Application Self-Assessment

We encourage DBT Programs to become certified and hope that the availability of scholarship assistance helps interested programs be able to pursue this valuable certification. Please check out the website for more information and feel free to Contact Us via the website with any questions. Thanks for your dedication!

Steps to Review your DBT Program for Certification Consideration:
a. Review and complete PFS Scale link:
b. Perform a Self-Assessment link:
c. Review or begin application (only DBT-LBC Certified Clinicians will have access to the application because one of the Program Certification requirements is that at least the team leader must be certified)

Alec L. Miller, PsyD
DBT-Linehan Board of Certification, Certified DBT Clinician
Chair, Michael Chambers Memorial Scholarship Fund Committee

Portland DBT Institute Receives Program Certification
Andrew White and Linda Dimeff
When individual certification first became available the Portland DBT Institute jumped at the chance. We had seen firsthand individuals who had continued to suffer after receiving what they thought was DBT, only to find they had not received DBT at all. We felt strongly about DBT programs setting the bar high and having clear criteria for what constitutes DBT. We also found when our clinicians went through the certification process, it had a huge positive impact on the clinic as a whole- people began forming study groups for the exam, sharing case conceptualizations, and increased their recording of sessions to get feedback from peers.
We applied for (and received!) our clinic certification in 2017. This process helped highlight areas of our services where we could tighten up and pushed us to shore those areas up. We have used the certification results to better meet the challenges of delivering high fidelity services to a growing population. Maintaining a high standard of service delivery for over one thousand clients per year and twenty-five full time therapists is a difficult task requiring a great deal of clinic infrastructure.
The on-site review process included feedback to both clinical and management staff which has further helped us to understand the relationship between how a principle or policy is expressed and the way in which it is experienced by individuals in the clinic. Clients interviewed by the review team expressed appreciation for having their voices heard as well as a greater connection to the clinic.
The impact of certification has been far greater than the sum of its parts. Certification has become a point of pride for staff and clients and has an ongoing positive impact. Much more than an administrative task the review process has been designed with the goal of adhering to core DBT principles around increasing staff’s competency and motivation to do the treatment. The completion of the certification process and third-party recognition around our delivery of DBT is an honor and reflects our core values as a clinic. 

The Importance of Providing Linehan Board Certified Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Borderline Personality and Substance Use Disorder. 

Family Perspective - by Regina Piscitelli

In light of the current opiate crisis in the United States it is more important than ever for families and clients to have access to both DBT-Linehan Board Certified programs and DBT-Linehan Board Certified therapists. About 78% of adults that suffer from BPD also have experienced a substance use disorder (Kienast, Stoffers, Bermpohl, & Lieb, 2014) and there is an increase of up to four times more risk of suicide (Darke, Ross, & Williamson, 2005). Heroin users with BPD have an increase of negative consequences and develop more health related problems. There is also a higher likelihood of heroin overdose (Darke, Ross, &Williamson, 2005). The possibility of an overdose creates an environment where families live in constant fear and uncertainty.

For nearly two decades, Dr. Linda Dimeff, PhD has collaborated with Dr. Marsha Linehan, PhD to develop an adaptation of DBT for BPD individuals who also have substance use disorders (SUD). Comorbidity of BPD and opioid addiction results in a more severe and persistent course of both disorders. People with multi-diagnosis are much more difficult to treat. The DBT-SUD treatment model is based on the standard DBT treatment model but targets specifics related to BPD and substance use disorders. Research has shown that implementing the DBT-SUD treatment model results in less drug use, better global assessment, lower drop out and continued gains. These studies provide evidence that DBT-SUD is effective in treating substance use problems while simultaneously addressing other complex problems.

The importance of including family in the treatment provided for the client gives the family the opportunity to learn some of the basic DBT ideas and skills that clients are learning in the program and explore ways to provide an environment for clients balancing a validation focus with acceptance strategies. Having the family involved promotes a better outcome and motivates the client to stay in treatment.

With the opioid epidemic gripping our nation and people dying from overdose at alarming rates it is important for clients and families to have available DBT-Linehan Board Certified programs and DBT-Linehan Board Certified therapists that are competent in delivering effective evidence based DBT. The potential lethal consequences that could result due to BPD-SUD underlines the need of finding a therapist or program that is Linehan Board Certified and adherent in DBT that can provide a treatment that is evidence based, board reviewed and held to the highest standards.



Darke, S., Ross, J., Williamson, A., & Teesson, M. (2005). The impact of borderline personality disorder on 12-month outcomes for the treatment of heroin dependence. Addiction, 100(8), 1121-1130. Doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2005.01123.x

Kienast, T., Stoffers, J., Bermpohl, F., & Lieb, K. (2014). Borderline personality disorder and comorbid addiction: Epidemiology and treatment. Deutsches Arzteblatt International, 111 (16), 280-286. 0280