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Practicing new tools to address life’s challenges.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a type of psychotherapy that was developed by Marsha Linehan in the 1970s to help people cope with intense emotions, accept reality, change their unhelpful behaviors, and improve their lives.

DBT is based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is another form of psychotherapy that focuses on how thoughts affect feelings and behaviors. 


The “Dialectical” in DBT means combining opposite ideas or seeing things from multiple perspectives. For example, in DBT one goal might be to accept yourself, while another might be to realize that you may need to change some of your habits. These goals might seem contradictory, but DBT teaches that both concepts can be attained simultaneously. Another example of dialectical thinking in DBT is accepting the reality of a very painful experience, while at the same time focusing on positive changes that can still be made to seek more meaning in life.


DBT curriculum teaches cognitive, behavioral, and communication interventions that help people take responsibility for their lives while empowering them to use active coping strategies. DBT curriculum always includes emotion regulation, distress tolerance, mindfulness, and interpersonal skills. DBT is a powerful therapy that has helped many people learn to improve their lives.

Zoe Gillispie PhD, Psychotherapist | Psychologist Redwood City, Therapy Bay Area, DBT Bay Area, Therapist San Mateo, Couples Therapy Bay Area, therapy san jose, therapist san mateo ca, therapy palo alto, therapy san mateo, dbt san jose, dialectical behavior therapy san jose, dbt groups bay area, psychologist palo alto,
Image by Timon Studler


Teen DBT Group

Sundays 4-5:30 pm

This is an in-person supportive group for high school teens ages 14-18. We will balance group process time with DBT and CBT skills practice. Teens with depression, anxiety, relationship challenges, identity concerns, and school problems are welcome to join.
The group consists of 90-minute sessions on Sunday afternoons and allows teens to share and receive support from one another, as well as to learn and practice skills for building confidence, emotion regulation, social skills, distress tolerance, and mindfulness skills.

Zoe Gillispie PhD, Psychotherapist | DBT Bay Area,   dbt san jose, dialectical behavior therapy san jose, dbt groups bay area,


Young Adult
DBT Group

An in-person DBT support group for adults to address relationship challenges, identity or career concerns, anxiety, and depression.


DBT Group for Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Groups are an excellent way to reduce isolation, build community, and practice social skills. The DBT Group for Young Adults with Autism teaches coping skills and builds confidence while also reducing depression and anxiety. 


While all the DBT Groups cover emotion regulation, distress tolerance, mindfulness, and interpersonal skills, this group will also include time to share special interests (art, gaming, music, etc), and will also bring in other topics of interest by request of the members (i.e., working on executive functioning skills, playing board games, etc).

Zoe Gillispie PhD, Psychotherapist | Psychologist Redwood City, Therapy Bay Area, DBT Bay Area,

Q & A 

Do you Run A Full DBT Program?

My groups are adapted DBT skills, process, and support groups, and not part of a full, comprehensive DBT program. While I am trained in the full DBT model and I complete the DBT curriculum, I am also free to incorporate other CBT and/or communication skills when it makes sense for a certain group of individuals.


Generally, a comprehensive DBT program involves a team of therapists with a strict program where clients attend individual and/or group sessions per week. To learn about the comprehensive DBT model, follow this link.

do you recommend individuals with Substance dependence attend your dbt groups?

I usually recommend that individuals with primary substance use problems refer to specialized treatments.


For my Teen DBT Group, especially, I prefer to keep those youth who are naive to substances separated from those with more significant substance abuse history. Many teens experiment with substances in school and social settings and DBT offers excellent strategies for preventing addiction, managing teen exploration, learning effective decision making, and practicing harm reduction tools. When a teen or adult has a significant need for substance abuse treatment, I usually refer out to specialized treatment programs.

isn't dbt for borderline personality disorder
individuals who are actively suicidal?

DBT is an evidenced-based therapy for many challenges. While DBT is very effective for individuals with self-harm, suicidal behaviors, and personality challenges, it can also be used to address depression, trauma, and other issues. The core DBT curriculum includes mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness skills. I find that most individuals can benefit from learning to practice DBT skills.

If individuals are experiencing active suicidal ideation, or want treatment for borderline personality disorder, I refer to local comprehensive DBT or Intensive Outpatient Programs, or other services, as needed, for more acute crisis management.

I would like to learn more about the DBT curriculum & skills 

While I aim to complete the full DBT curriculum in each group, sometimes group members ask to cover other skills and topics. For instance, in my Young Adult ASD Group, a big topic is improving motivation, executive functioning, social skills and confidence.

If you are interested in exploring the research on DBT, follow this link. If you want to see the curriculum I use, developed by Marsha Linehan, see the link below to access your own copy:

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