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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.

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