What is DBT?

DBT is an empirically-supported, structured therapy that emphasizes both acceptance and change-oriented skills. We help clients move away from polarized thinking in order to accept seemingly opposite truths. This “dialectical” thinking allows them to construct more effective, meaningful lives. Clients learn skills in mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness.

The Wake Kendall Group, PLLC is home to a DBT-Linehan Board of Certification, Certified Program™.

History of DBT at The Wake Kendall Group

Our DBT program is true to the model of a community of therapists treating a community of clients. The Wake Kendall DBT community took root in 2003 when Wake Kendall psychologists first participated in week long intensive training sessions with Dr. Marsha Linehan, the founder of DBT. The Wake Kendall DBT program has grown organically as we have observed clients making effective use of DBT to achieve their goals. Our DBT program was the first in the Washington DC metro area to be certified by the DBT-Linehan Board of Certification.

What does it mean for a program to be certified by the DBT-Linehan Board of Certification?

DBT-Linehan Board of Certification (DBT-LBC) Program Certification indicates that the program has the structure and practices consistent with delivery of a comprehensive implementation of DBT. The program must have a Team Leader who is a DBT-Linehan Board of Certification, Certified Clinician™ and must undergo a rigorous and extensive review that includes document review, interviews with treatment providers and clients, and on-site observations of the DBT program practices in action.

Some members of our team have also pursued and achieved individual therapist certification as DBT-Linehan Board of Certification, Certified Clinicians™. As with program certification, the clinician certification process involves a number of steps that show understanding of and adherence to the DBT model. It is an unusually demanding process, and it is a testament to our program that Wake Kendall psychologists have been successful in becoming certified. To learn more about the DBT-Linehan Board of Certification, visit the DBT-LBC website.

About Our Team

We have a robust team in which senior members share accumulated experience, and early career therapists infuse our program with new energy and ideas. Our team meets weekly, and we continually hone our skills with ongoing training and regular consultation with DBT experts in other parts of the country. We are honored to be involved in important changes in the lives of our clients, some of whom have come to us with extensive histories of prior treatment. The central idea in DBT is that individuals are doing the best they can and, at the same time, need to change. We constantly seek to improve our ability to meet the needs of our clients, and we believe that humility and a respect for the formidable challenges faced by clients is critical to our work.

Who Can Benefit from DBT?

DBT has long been the treatment of choice for individuals with pronounced emotion regulation difficulties, and over the years, DBT has been extended to work with individuals who struggle with depression, trauma, and addiction. Wake Kendall offers DBT for adults with a range of presenting concerns. We take time in pre-DBT sessions to ensure that DBT is a good fit for the client. Once it is established that DBT will address the needs of the client, we typically ask for a one-year commitment.

Adult DBT Program (Ages 18 & older)

The Adult DBT program includes four key components: weekly skills training, weekly individual therapy, telephone coaching, and treatment team.

Clients attend one weekly instructional group with roughly ten to twelve participants and two professional leaders. The group lasts one hour and forty-five minutes. The topics covered are:

  • Mindfulness: Strategies to increase the capacity to pay attention, non-judgmentally, to the present moment
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness: Strategies to attain personal goals in interpersonal situations while enhancing self-respect and overall quality of relationships
  • Emotion Regulation: Strategies to understand and manage emotions in effective, productive ways
  • Distress Tolerance: Strategies to tolerate high levels of painful emotions and accept reality as it is

Clients attend weekly individual therapy sessions, lasting from 45 to 60 minutes. Individual therapists help clients identify meaningful goals and target specific behaviors to change. Clients keep a “diary card,” a checklist for tracking thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and skills on a daily basis. During sessions, the therapist’s role is to facilitate application of skills to daily life. Clients are also expected to maintain or steadily move toward at least 20 hours of structured activity per week (paid work, volunteer work, or classes).

Clients are encouraged to call their individual therapist for brief (five minute) skills-oriented coaching when they are experiencing difficulty applying skills.

Individual therapists and group skills leaders meet on a weekly basis and work as a consultation team.


We currently offer four adult groups:

Tuesdays - in person - 9:30am-11:15am (includes 15 min break)
Wednesdays - teletherapy - 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Thursdays - teletherapy - 10:30am - 12:00pm
Thursdays - teletherapy - 5:30pm -7:00pm

Individual therapy appointments are on weekdays only. Some of our therapists offer early morning and early evening appointments.

Intake Procedure

We often have a waiting list for our DBT program. We endeavor to move people off the waiting list as soon as possible however the wait time to enter our comprehensive DBT program is typically a minimum of 4 to 12 weeks. You may be eligible to participate in skills training group as an adjunct to your ongoing treatment outside of the Wake Kendall Group while you are on the wait list to join our comprehensive DBT program. Availability to start in Pre-DBT Skills Training in Advance of Treatment (Pre-DBT STAT) depends on openings in the skills groups (see additional information below). In the interest of facilitating a smooth intake procedure, we ask that you proceed with the following steps:

  • Step 1

    Complete the application (linked at the bottom of this page). This brief screening form is a preliminary tool for us to begin determining whether our DBT program is an appropriate treatment for you. It is not a substitute for a more thorough, in-person intake process. Note: Clicking on the application link at the bottom of this page will take you to the HelloSign website, where you will be required to enter your email address in order to proceed with the application process. After submitting your email address, you will receive an email from HelloSign with the subject line "Click here to sign DBT Application." Following the link in the email ("Review Document") will allow you to begin completing your application electronically. Upon completion, the application will be securely transmitted to us.

  • Step 2

    Once we receive your application, our intake coordinator (202-686-7699, ext. 30) will contact you to acknowledge receipt of your application. At this time your name will be placed on our wait list. *Please note that being placed on the wait list does not guarantee admission to our program – it is the first step in our intake process which allows our intake coordinator to prioritize screening applicants based on the order in which they applied. Please make sure you get the treatment you need while you are on our wait list.

  • Step 3

    We ask that you call our intake coordinator every three weeks to express your continued interest. She will return your calls and, with time, be able to offer closer estimates regarding wait list length and timing for scheduling your phone screening. If a few months pass without updates from you, your name will be dropped from the waiting list.

  • Step 4

    Our intake coordinator will reach out to you to schedule a phone screening when there are upcoming openings in our program. The purpose of this phone screening is to review your application and determine if outpatient DBT is an appropriate treatment to meet your current needs. Unless it is clear from this screening that DBT is not a good fit, we will hold your name on the wait list for the next available opening in the program.

  • Step 5

    Once it becomes clear that we have an opening in the program, we will assign you to a skills group and an individual therapist. We ask that you call this therapist within 1-2 days to schedule an initial intake appointment. Alternately, if you have indicated interest in our Pre-DBT STAT program on your application, we will notify you of any opening in skills training group that you are eligible to enroll in while you remain on the wait list for our comprehensive program. See additional information about Pre-DBT STAT below.

  • Step 6

    Once you have been assigned an individual therapist you will then begin a 3-6 week phase of "Pre-DBT individual therapy." This is a time for building a therapeutic relationship; history-taking; identifying goals for treatment; honing in on target behaviors; developing a diary card; getting oriented to core DBT theories, concepts, and strategies; solidifying commitment; etc. Assuming both parties continue to view DBT as a good treatment fit, group skills training would commence at the end of pre-treatment. Clients who have already started Pre-DBT STAT will participate in the same pre-DBT process once they are assigned an individual therapist.

Pre-DBT Skills Training in Advance of Treatment (Pre-DBT STAT)

You may be eligible to participate in skills training group as an adjunct to your ongoing treatment outside of WKG while you are on the waiting list to join our full DBT program. Availability to start in Pre-DBT Skills Training in Advance of Treatment (Pre-DBT STAT) will vary depending on openings in the skills groups.

Steps to be considered for Pre-DBT STAT:

-Complete and submit a DBT program application indicating your interest in Pre-DBT STAT.

-When a skills group opening arises, our intake coordinator will reach out to schedule a brief phone screening appointment in order to determine the appropriateness of DBT as a treatment for you and to orient you to program policies, fees, and procedures.

-You must have a current/active provider (either therapist or prescriber) who agrees to take full responsibility for your care until you are formally accepted into our comprehensive program and have completed pre-DBT sessions with a DBT therapist on our team. The timing of being able to transition into full DBT will vary and is pending space in the program. Please note that it may be 6 months or more from the time that you begin Pre-DBT STAT until there is an opportunity to move into our comprehensive program.

-A provider agreement signed by your current provider must be received at least one week in advance of the start date of the module for which you are eligible.

-You agree to attend any skills module in which you are enrolled for the entirety of its 8-9 weeks.

-You agree to attend brief (30 minute) monthly check-in sessions with one of the skills group leaders to support you in your skills learning and check in about any challenges or difficulties that arise in the course of your participation. A group leader will reach out to schedule two check-ins for the module at the module start - group leaders may recommend additional check-ins as needed. These meetings are billed consistent with our individual therapy fees for a 30-minute session and should not replace regular care with your primary outside provider.

When there is an opening in our full program, we will let you know and our intake coordinator will reach out to assign you an individual DBT therapist in our program. At this time you would pause or terminate treatment with your primary outside provider (if they are a psychotherapist) for the duration of your time in comprehensive DBT. You should plan to continue your work with any psychiatrist/prescribing provider for ongoing medication management during your time in DBT.

If at the time that we offer you a space in our comprehensive program (i.e. assignment to a DBT therapist on our team) you have met your treatment goals and no longer wish to transition into the full DBT program, we expect that you will complete the module in which you are currently enrolled and you will subsequently be removed from our waitlist at the conclusion of the module. Requests to continue in additional modules of skills group after this point will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If at any point your group leaders, in conjunction with the DBT team, believe that Pre-DBT STAT is no longer an appropriate treatment for you we will discuss this with you and may recommend an alternate treatment outside of our program.

Complete Application for Adult DBT Program

We strive to give you as much advance notice as possible so you can plan accordingly and, at the same time, appreciate your patience with our intake procedure.

Emotion and Social Effectiveness Program (EASE)

EASE is a 12-week didactic skills training group that teaches select Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills, including mindfulness, emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and distress tolerance.

EASE is designed for adults (aged 18 years or older) who are interested in using techniques based on recent research to improve relationships and enhance mood regulation skills. Over the course of this 12-week group, participants will learn and practice skills related to acceptance, assertiveness, and self-validation, among other topics. We welcome individuals with no prior DBT experience, as well as those who are seeking a DBT skills refresher. EASE may be used as an adjunct to existing individual therapy, although individual therapy is not a requirement for enrollment.

Please note: In contrast to Wake Kendall’s DBT Program, EASE includes solely a didactic skills component and covers a condensed overview of DBT skills. Individuals seeking more intensive and comprehensive skills training in adherence to Linehan’s DBT model are encouraged to apply to Wake Kendall’s full DBT program (see above).

To enroll in the EASE group, please first complete the EASE application electronically.

Note: Clicking on the application link at the bottom of this page will take you to the HelloSign website, where you will be required to enter your email address in order to proceed with the application process. After submitting your email address, you will receive an email from HelloSign with the subject line "Click here to sign EASE Application." Following the link in the email ("Review Document") will allow you to begin completing your application electronically. Upon completion, the application will be securely transmitted to us. After we receive your application, we will contact you within a week. If appropriate, we will then schedule an in-person interview to assess your needs and eligibility for the group. If we find that the EASE program does not meet your needs, we will be happy to refer you to the appropriate treatment.

Family & Friends Support Group

Partners, parents, relatives, and close friends of clients in our DBT program often benefit from extra support and guidance. Please call 202-686-7699, extension 30 to find out the dates of our next Family and Friends information and support group. Refreshments and a book will be provided.

For general information about DBT visit behavioraltech.org

Payment for Services

We are not within-network for any managed care companies, and we are not Medicare providers. If you choose to pursue reimbursement for out-of-network providers, please keep in mind that any reimbursement should be directed to you, as we do not accept checks from insurance companies.