St. Luke’s University Health Network has added a therapeutic component called dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) to its Partial Hospitalization Program/Innovations, an outpatient group therapy program for those struggling with depression, anxiety, stress issues and other mental health challenges.
DBT is another way to provide skills that help people with mental health issues make their lives worth living, said Suzanne Makary, a music therapist at St. Luke’s.
“DBT helps patients identify thinking patterns or emotions that contribute to their negative thoughts and helps them learn how to turn them around and make them manageable,” she said. “It helps patients identify the things they are struggling with and learn strategies and skills to make changes that are necessary in their lives.”
DBT is incorporated in group skills training classes that are offered to those in need of help but not hospitalization. St. Luke’s has the only Behavioral Health partial program in the region emphasizing this technique.
In addition to DBT, the program includes educational classes on topics such as insomnia, diet, exercise and medication, and relaxation techniques. Groups also assist people with drug/alcohol issues learn about sobriety and how it interacts with overall emotional wellness.
About an hour of the daily program is dedicated to DBT during music therapy, Makary said. Music therapy uses listening, singing and playing music and musical instruments to improve and help maintain a patient’s mental health.
“Music therapy focuses on skills they can use right now in their lives to make them better,” Makary said. Music therapy groups focus on the four main components of DBT: Mindfulness, Emotion Regulation, Distress Tolerance and Interpersonal Effectiveness.
DBT is an evidence-based therapy developed in 1993 that originated for people who were chronically suicidal. However, research indicates it has benefits for all mental health challenges and those seeking a better life, Makary said.
“We practice skills that can help people make healthy choices and learn to tolerate and deal with the stressors in their lives,” she said. For example, she said, patients are taught how to focus on other things so that overdue bill notice that came in Saturday morning’s mail won’t ruin their weekend and keep them depressed. “They learn how they can make healthy choices so that they can wait until Monday to call and straighten it out.”
Patients are encouraged to take an active part in their treatment, Makary said. “We want them to take the skills they learn home and practice them,” she said.
The Partial Behavioral Health treatment program is held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday for about two weeks at the Eaton Avenue Behavioral Health Center. Groups have 10 or fewer patients in them. The program can accommodate up to 18 a day.
For more information, call the Partial Hospitalization Program/Innovations at 484-526-3838.
Note: This story was contributed by St. Luke’s University Health Network. Its publication is part of a news partnership between Saucon Source and SLUHN.