Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) was developed by Prof. Marsha Linehan, Ph.D., at the University of Washington in the late 1970's.  She added acceptance, dialectics and validation strategies to cognitive-behavioural treatment for patients diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) sometimes referred to as Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, who often presented with chronic patterns of suicidal or other severe dysfunctional behaviours and named the therapy Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). In 2015 Prof. Linehan updated her research to show DBT is also effective in many client settings and for many people suffering emotional dysregulation including its usefulness for Adolescents.  It is not unusual for individuals diagnosed with BPD to also struggle with other problems i.e. depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) anxiety, eating disorderes, or alcohol and drug problems.  It is important to note that DBT is an "empiracally supported treatment for BPD sufferers.  DBT Skills are extremely useful for people in assisting in management of impulsive behaviours, mood changes, out of control emotions, anxiety, depression and urges to use substances, food, gambling etc., to avoid or get rid of uncomfortable or intense emotions. DBT gives clients concrete strategies and skills to help them learn to manage emotions, survive crises and maintain effective relationships.  There is a growing body of evidence that DBT assists people suffering addictions and eating disorders.

A key component of DBT based skills is teaching a client to stay a little longer than before with feeling emotional pain, validating and accepting their experience whilst moviong towards changes in behaviours.


There are four modules in DBT

Mindfulness - How to observe the present moment

Distress Tolerance- How to learn to tolerate distress and lower anxiety without making it worse

Emotional Regulation - Understanding what your emotions do for and to you

Interpersonal Effectiveness - How to have interactions with people effectively, improve relationships


As Megan is an Art Psychotherapist she enjoys using creative exercises alongside the verbal skills of DBT. Making is a non-verbal experiential tool that enables an image or object to be created, enhancing the process of understanding what the DBT skill means for a client. There is time and space to reflect, observe and own something original that can reinforce these skills (No artistic talent required).  The client can leave group or individual sessions taking an original concrete image or object they can observe and reflect on in the own time and space.




Client describes his Wise Mind:

"With Wise Mind I realize my Bipolar disorder makes me feel I have two sides to my brain, always different emotions, moods. Wise Mind is me trying to lace up, tie my split brain together."


Contact Megan Shiell at ETC – Tweed Heads

0417 084 846

Registered Art Psychotherapist:

Dialectical Behavior Therapist:
ACA Member #7159

Further Info

For further information on Art Therapy or Art Psychotherapy: www.anzata.org.