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Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Program

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a cognitive behavioral treatment developed by Marsha Linehan, PhD. It emphasizes individual psychotherapy and group skills training classes to help people learn and use new skills and strategies to develop a life that they experience as worth living. DBT skills include skills for mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness.

regulation skills
How to change emotions that you want to change.
How to tolerate pain in difficult situations, not change it.
How to ask for what you want and say no while maintaining self-respect and relationships with others.
The practice of being fully aware and present in this one moment.

DBT was originally developed to treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD), and it is now recognized as the gold standard psychological treatment for this population. In addition, research has shown that it is effective in treating a wide range of other disorders such as substance dependence, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and eating disorders.

The goal of DBT is to help clients build a life that they experience as worth living. In DBT, the client and the therapist work together to set goals that are meaningful to the client. Often this means they work on ways to decrease harmful behaviors and replace them with effective, life-enhancing behaviors. Problematic behaviors evolve as a way to cope with a situation or attempt to solve a problem. While these behaviors might provide temporary relief or a short-term solution, they often are not effective in the long-term. DBT assumes that clients are doing they best they can, AND they need to learn new behaviors in all relevant contexts. DBT helps enhance a client’s capabilities by teaching behavioral skills, and these skills help people develop effective ways to navigate situations that arise in everyday life or manage specific challenges.

Dr. Wallach is one of the only private practice clinicians in the Los Angeles area that is able to provide a comprehensive DBT protocol consisting of individual sessions, skills classes, phone coaching and team consultation.

Dr. Wallach and all the clinicians at Suzanne Wallach Psychotherapy are pleased to announce that we offer a comprehensive Dialectical Behavior Therapy program based on the model founded and developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan, and in line with the teachings of Behavioral Tech. We offer two programs, one for adolescents (ages 13 and up) and one for adults.

DBT requires a strong commitment from the client, as a comprehensive DBT program consists of four components that are central to DBT, and typically lasts a minimum of one year. Without these components, it is not DBT, and anyone looking for a DBT program should make sure that anyone offering DBT can offer the following:

DBT skills group

This is a group that meets for 1-2 hours, once a week, and is taught as a didactic skills class.  All DBT groups must always be led by two skills leaders in order to be comprehensive.  The structure of our groups is a one to two minute check in per person, five to ten minutes of mindfulness, and skills training.  We follow the syllabus laid forth by Dr. Linehan in her DBT Skills Training Manual, and all clients are provided with the DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets.  Groups consist of no more than eight clients and two skills group leaders.  The group is not a support group where members talk to each other about their feelings and share their problems. It is more like a class where the leaders present skills to be learned and mastered. Homework is assigned in each group.

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individual therapy

Clients meet 1-2 times per week with their individual therapist, who is trained in DBT, and is part of our DBT consultation team.

phone coaching

Clients have 24 hour access not only to their individual therapist, but also to both of their skills leaders from group via phone, text or email (determined by the therapist) in order to receive skills coaching in the moment, as needed.

DBT consultation team

The consultation team is an integral part of DBT and serves as “therapy for the therapist.”  In DBT, all clients are being treated by our entire team, not just their individual therapist.  In consultation team, all of our DBT therapists meet once weekly to consult with one another and strategize on cases, provide feedback and support to the therapists, and make sure that DBT protocol is being followed on each case to best support the client and provide the highest quality of care.  DBT cannot be provided unless a therapist has a DBT consult team.

DBT therapist deskDBT Skills Groups

For those patients that do not want a comprehensive DBT program, but still want to learn DBT skills, we do allow entrance into our DBT skills groups, provided you are working with a therapist that we can collaborate with. You do not need to see one of us for individual therapy, we are always willing to work with the treatment team you already have in place, and are diligent about consistent communication with your other care providers. Patients are required to attend an individual assessment prior to joining groups, and all groups have rolling admission.

Our DBT skills training group is focused on enhancing clients’ capabilities by teaching them behavioral skills. The group is run according to Marsha Linehan’s model following the DBT skills training manual. The group leader and co leader teach the skills and assign homework for clients to practice using the skills in their everyday lives. Our group will also cover the four modules of DBT skills, mindfulness, emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and distress tolerance.

Skills Groups meet once a week for 1-2 hours, and are currently offered for adults on Monday evening, Tuesday evening, Thursday evening and Friday late morning. Our adolescent skills group meets on Wednesday evenings.

Group Leaders:

All skills classes are run by Suzanne Wallach, Daniele Lewin, Molly Ackerly, Ruth Avalos, Alessandra Rizzotti, Ethan Sapienza, Kayla Uggetti & Molly Nestor Kaye.

Dr. Suzanne Wallach


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Daniele Lewin


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Molly Ackerly


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Ruth Avalos


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Sarah Gordis

Staff Therapist

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Kayla Uggetti


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Sofia Gomez Botero


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