(650) 596-0807






What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy, commonly known as DBT, was originally developed by Marsha Linehan, PhD to assist individuals diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) create a life worth living. DBT is a broad-based cognitive-behavior treatment program that has been clinically proven to be effective in treating BPD by assisting clients to learn and apply coping skills that improve their overall quality of life. The skills developed throughout treatment include:
    • Handling feelings
    • Dealing with other people
    • Developing the support of friends, families or helping professionals

DBT skills have also proved to be effective in helping individuals with other personality disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse issues, and anxiety and mood disorders be more successful in managing their lives.

Individuals with a high need for emotional regulation often deal with a variety of symptoms which create conflict and interfere with their ability to handle daily situations. Symptoms often include:

• Recurring suicidal behavior or threats
• High risk self-harm behaviors
• Quick and intense mood changes
• Harmful impulsivity, such as:
    • illegal activities
    • sex
    • substance abuse
    • reckless driving
    • binge eating
    • intense and complicated relationships
    • destructive anger
    • spending money



Treatment Modalities

Treatment includes an hour of individual psychotherapy and two hours of psycho-educational skills training group on a weekly basis. Additional services include:

    • Telephone skills coaching.

    • Case management with other service providers, physicians, and clinicians.

    • Medication management with psychiatrists or primary care physicians.



The Four Modules of DBT

Skills training groups are offered in four modules: Core mindfulness, Distress tolerance, Emotional regulation and Interpersonal effectiveness. New participants are enrolled at the beginning of each module.

Each of the modules starts with the 2 week Core Mindfulness module. The class teaches six core skills that focus on learning how to focus attention; being mindful of information the client chooses to focus on and unmindful of information that is not helpful or effective in meeting their goals.

In the Interpersonal Effectiveness module, participants are taught how to formulate and prioritize specific goals in interpersonal interactions. Clients learn about factors that reduce interpersonal effectiveness. They learn useful methods for saying no and asking for what they need; including ways to express themselves in a gentle, interested and easy manner while appearing confident. Participants are taught a system for negotiating their wants and presenting their point of view to build strong relationships and self-respect.



In the Emotional Regulation module, participants learn how to be aware of, define, and use private emotional experiences as valuable information in making decisions and communicating with others. They are taught the invaluable role that emotion plays in interpersonal interactions and are coached in methods to reduce emotional vulnerability, increase positive emotions and be unmindful of worries.

In the Distress Tolerance module, participants are taught how to manage anxiety and delay immediate behavioral responses when faced with high stress or crisis situations. We teach relaxation skills, self-soothing with the five senses, distraction, improving the moment, and radical acceptance.


Individual Therapy

Each of our DBT Mid-Peninsula Team clinicians is also available for weekly individual DBT psychotherapy sessions where clients learn to integrate and apply the teachings and skills from the skills training groups into their daily lives. For clients that are not actively suicidal and do not exhibit dangerous self-harm behaviors we also work collaboratively with out-of-team therapists if their clients wish to continue weekly individual therapy with them while participating in our DBT skills training groups. The primary therapist must be willing to accept calls for emergency phone consultations and check client’s diary cards weekly to assist clients in managing their target behaviors. Handouts of client’s weekly skills training materials will be made available to out-of team therapists upon request.

DBT Treatment Goals

Once an individual enters our DBT program a treatment plan is developed with the therapist and individual target behaviors are identified for each client.
The first stage of treatment involves achieving client stability, connection and safety, resulting in:

    • Decreased suicidal behaviors

    • Decreased self-harm behaviors

    • Decreased therapy interfering behaviors

    • Decreased quality-of-life interfering behaviors

    • Increased behavioral skills, including:

      • core mindfulness

      • interpersonal effectiveness

      • emotional regulation

      • distress tolerance

      • self-management

The second stage of the program focuses on exposure and emotionally processing the past with the goal of decreasing posttraumatic stress.
The third and final stage of the program focuses on increasing respect for self and setting individual goals.

Commitment of Participants

To participate in the DBT program and create a life worth living an individual must:
- Be willing to work hard
- Be committed to actively participate
- Be prepared to make difficult but healthy changes in their life
- Be willing to complete all 4 modules (about 8 months)



Those accepted must also have:
• Transportation to and from program (and backup plan)
• Day care arrangements (and backup plan)
• Telephone (or 24-hour access to phone – important for telephone coaching))
• Willingness to obtain one support person

DBT Mid-Peninsula Team

A Group of Independent Clinicians - All team members have been intensively trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy by Behavioral Tech, LCC of Seattle, WA

Team Leader:
Helen Selenati, LMFT (MFC 41355)
Skills Trainers:
Mary Reed, MFT (MFC 52692)
Tami Schmalz, MFT (MFC 46061)
Margo Thienemann, MD


  • Adult DBT Skills Training Groups in Redwood City (Veterans Blvd)

Monday evening                       7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Tuesday evening                       7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Thursday morning                    10:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon

  • Individual DBT Therapy

  • Telephone Skills Coaching

617 Veterans Blvd., Suite 212

Redwood City, CA 94063

Call (650) 596-0807 or email helen@selenati.com


  • Teen DBT Skills Training Groups in Redwood City

Tuesday Afternoon                       4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

  • Multi-family DBT Skills Training Groups in Redwood City (Veterans Blvd)

    Wednesday evening                   6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

    Thursday evening                         7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

  • Individual DBT Therapy

  • Telephone Skills Coaching

617 Veterans Blvd., Suite 212

Redwood City, CA 94063

Call (650) 996-4618 or email tamischmalz@comcast.net



  • Adult DBT Graduate Group in Redwood City (Woodside Road)

Saturdays - TBD

  • Parent DBT Skills and Support Group in Redwood City (Woodside Road)

    Saturdays - TBD

  • Co-lead Teen DBT Skills Training Groups in Redwood City (Veterans Blvd.)

    See Tami Schmalz above
  • Individual DBT Therapy

  • Telephone Skills Coaching

617 Veterans Blvd., Suite 212

Redwood City, CA 94063

Call (650) 281-5631 or email mfr0921@yahoo.com


Copyright © 2004 - 2017 Helen Selenati