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Dialectical Behavior Therapy Linehan Board Certification: What You Need to Know as a Consumer of DBT

Updated: Dec 16, 2020

As a consumer, it can be challenging to evaluate which treatment is right for you, which therapist is a good match (which is based on a number of factors!), and whether providers and clinics are truly expert in a particular area of practice. Though therapists are required to become licensed by their respective boards, licensed therapists may vary widely in training, experience, or specific types of expertise. As a way to aid consumers in their decisions about their treatment, additional certification boards have formed to provide standardization and evaluation of the performance of specific types of therapy, such as DBT. The goal of such boards is to help consumers determine a particular therapist’s (or clinic’s) adherence or fidelity to the therapy; i.e., whether they are providing the treatment as it was designed by the treatment developers and tested through empirical science.

Though there are several companies that offer a certificate or certification program in DBT, “DBT certification” most often refers to the certification program developed by the creator of DBT, Dr. Marsha Linehan. Dr. Linehan founded the Linehan Board of Certification (or DBT-LBC) whose mission is to “provide to the public at large and to relevant stakeholders a source that clearly identifies providers and programs that reliably offer DBT in a way that conforms to the evidence-based research” (LBC website). LBC certification is a process that has been implemented to ensure that DBT clinicians and DBT programs have received proper training to deliver the highest standards of care to any client seeking DBT treatment. Board certification provides an assessment of the knowledge, skills, and competencies required for competent practice of DBT. In addition, DBT certification enhances continued competence through ongoing training and maintenance of certification requirements.

To obtain the title of a DBT-LBC certified individual therapist, a series of rigorous steps must be completed which are periodically revised by the DBT-LBC board. At the time of this blog post, the certification process starts with an initial application process that is reviewed by the board. All applicants are required to have met specific qualifications before their application can be accepted. These qualifications include being a fully licensed mental health provider, completing intensive training program(s) in DBT, completing DBT treatment with at least 3 clients, and being an active part of a DBT treatment team.

Once an application is accepted, clinicians must then pass a written examination of DBT competencies, including assessment, individual, and group treatment components. The final step to becoming a DBT certified clinician is to have 3 work samples (i.e., videos of client sessions, which are only obtained with written permission from the client) that are coded for DBT adherence by the certification board. To learn more about the most current elements of the certification process, check out the DBT-LBC website:

Due to this time intensive and rigorous process, combined with the relative recency of which the LBC finalized their certification process, few clinicians have obtained certification. In fact, at time of this post, there are currently only 7 therapists with this certification status in the entire state of North Carolina! You can find the most updated list of certified providers here. You will find three of our TAP Clinicians on that list, as we are extremely lucky to have Lorie Ritschel, PhD, Becca Edwards-Powell, LCSW, and Kathryn Byars, PhD as our certified DBT providers. In addition, providers on the TAP DBT team are required to work toward certification if they are not already certified. Ensuring our clinicians are DBT LBC certified is one way in which the TAP Clinic shows our commitment to gold-standard, evidence-based practice.

The Linehan Board of Certification (LBC) process continues to evolve with novel research and updated standards of care. If you are or plan to be a DBT consumer, their website and the certification process may be a helpful tool in determining your treatment and clinician fit. We encourage you to have an open dialogue with your DBT clinician about their expertise, training, consultation, and continuing education in DBT.We hope that this blog post and the LBC may de-mystify parts of this process for all consumers of DBT treatment.

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