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Pasadena Villa Uses DBT Skills Training Groups

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a cognitive behavioral treatment method that was originally developed to treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Dialectical behavior therapy is now recognized as the gold standard of treatment for clients struggling with suicidal thoughts. Additionally, research has shown that it is effective in treating a wide range of other disorders such as substance dependence, depression and anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and eating disorders.

Pasadena Villa’s DBT skills training group is focused on enhancing client’s coping abilities by teaching behavioral skills. The group is run like a class where the group leader teaches the skills and assigns exercises for clients to practice between sessions. Our groups meet four times each week.


DBT training groups teach four sets of behavioral skills.

  • Mindfulness – Mindfulness is the practice of being fully aware and present in this one moment.
  • Distress Tolerance –Distress tolerance teaches our clients how to tolerate pain in difficult situations, not change it.
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness – Interpersonal effectiveness is the ability to ask for what you want and say no while maintaining self-respect and relationships with others.
  • Emotion Regulation – The ability to change emotions that you want to change.


Residents at Pasadena Villa’s Smoky Mountain Lodge have ample opportunities to practice DBT skills within it’s residential treatment setting. Residents practice mindful observing, describing and participating throughout the day as they engage in the activities and outings offered. Mindfulness is the practice of gaining control of the mind by learning to control attention processes, which helps residents to be more aware of patterns creating pain in their lives and to reduce acting on impulsive urges. Mindfulness also enhances positive experiences and helps residents accept reality as it is.


A critical distress tolerance skill that is frequently encouraged and practiced is the acronym “TIPP”:

T – changing body temperature

I – engaging in intensive exercise

Ppaced breathing

Pprogressive muscle relaxation.


Research indicates that TIPP skills activate the parasympathetic nervous system to reduce emotional arousal and assist residents in coping with distress without engaging in self-destructive behaviors. Residents may ask for ice packs or use cold water to reduce their temperature. They often utilize the workout facilities or climb the steep mountain roads to exercise intensely for 20-30 minutes. The program also provides several classes and frequent coaching to use breathing techniques to improve distress tolerance.

Our social integration model provides many opportunities for residents to practice interpersonal skills. In dialectical behavior therapy, the therapist normalizes interpersonal conflicts as a natural part of relationship building and therapists offer frequent opportunities to role play skills using real life situations occurring among residents and their families. Staff also have plenty of opportunities to coach residents in real time as they encounter day to day interactions in the milieu.

To learn more about Pasadena Villa’s residential treatment programs and treatment methods, please fill out our contact form call 877-845-5235 to speak with an admissions counselor. We currently offer treatment at two residential locations in both Orlando, Florida and Knoxville, Tennessee, and outpatient services in Raleigh, North Carolina. We welcome most major insurance plans with the exception of Medicaid and Medicare. Private pay is also an option for our clients and their families.

If you think that you or a loved one may be struggling with a mental health disorder, Pasadena Villa can help. We are here to answer questions and connect to care. Pasadena Villa currently offers treatment at two residential locations in both Orlando, Florida and Knoxville, Tennessee, and outpatient services in Cary, North Carolina and Charlotte, North Carolina. To learn more about our program, call us at
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