How DBT Can Help Trauma Treatment

Struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is incredibly challenging. People have described it as, “living in fear,” “feeling trapped and watching everyone else be happy,” “feeling unsafe and on edge.” Living with PTSD is isolating, terrifying, unforgiving, and turbulent. When you are diagnosed with PTSD you may have heard that there are treatments available to you and it may have caused questions and concerns about what it would be like and if you would be able to tolerate it.

There is good news, Dialectical Behavior Therapy is an excellent treatment that will help you through your recovery journey. It has shown to reduce the likelihood of dropout during trauma treatment. Research has shown that PTSD is estimated to affect 8% of the United States population (Kessler et al., 2005; Kilpatrick et al., 2013) and 1-9% of the populations of various countries worldwide (Atwoli, Stein, Koenen, & McLaughlin, 2015). Even though there are high percentages of successful completion of trauma treatment dropout rates are still a significant concern. Some reports show that on average as high as 36% of clients drop out of trauma-focused treatments (Imel, Laska, Jakupcak, & Simpson, 2013).

You are not alone when it comes to struggling to tolerate sitting with and processing your trauma. We now know that physiological arousal (hypervigilance, anxiety, fear, tension, unease) and avoidance (wanting to escape, struggling to tolerate negative emotions, not coming to treatment, etc) are some of the main reasons why trauma treatment feels intolerable.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy offers interventions for physiological arousal and avoidance, through the four main modules (mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness). You and your therapist will focus on ways to use skills and effective interventions to help manage and reduce negative feelings and emotions, which in turn will help you feel more at ease and increase a sense of safety.

When approaching something as scary as your trauma it is understandable that it can be hard to tolerate intense, negative feelings. Some turn to maladaptive behaviors to help them cope, such as self-harm, suicidal ideation, substance use, eating disorders, etc.) Dialectical Behavior Therapy was designed to give the client a plan and way to approach their emotion dysregulation.

Trauma treatment is a opportunity to restore your life back to your values, hopes, and dreams. It can be hard to start and maintain the course of treatment, because we are facing what we fear. That is why it is so beneficial to work with treatments that offer a collaborative experience, help you find safety, and manage negative thoughts and emotions. Come join us to learn more about Dialectical Behavior Therapy and the supportive role it can bring to trauma treatment.

ADAA has an exclusive webinar on “How DBT Can Help Trauma Treatment.” Hosted by Neal Sideman and presented by Lara Effland, LICSW, CEDS. Please read her bio below to gain more information about Lara and her expertise.

Lara Effland is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in the states of Washington, Illinois, and Texas. Since 2010, Lara has been providing supervision and training to new clinicians while maintaining a full caseload of clients. In 2009, Lara was called to develop a mood and anxiety program in Chicago, IL. Since 2009, this program has become a nationally recognized resource for those struggling with mood, anxiety, and trauma disorders. For the past 12 years, Lara has overseen mental health programs for higher levels of care, such as residential, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and outpatient services. She has supervised, trained, and presented on multiple topics related to mental health across the nation: eating disorders, complex trauma, high risk co-occurring disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. She has been a dedicated, servant leader focusing on building cohesive and clinically excellent programs and teams. Her last position held before starting the Clinical Development Collective was Regional Clinical Director for mental health programs in Washington and California.

Lara founded the Clinician Development Collective in 2021, a concept that was brought to life during the challenging years of the COVID-19 pandemic. She offers clinical supervision, consultation, training, and therapy.

Lara, also, has a private practice where she sees clients in a virtual setting. Her clinical focus is on anxiety, depression, trauma, obsessive compulsive disorder, and eating disorders. She specializes in supporting professionals who are balancing work, personal life, and mental health. You may check her out via her website or social media:

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