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DBT Informed Music Therapy

What is DBT?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), created by Dr. Marsha Linehan, is an effective evidence-based treatment model using skills training to “change behavioral, emotional, thinking, and interpersonal patterns associated with problems in living”. (Linehan 2015) Originally known for its effectiveness in working with patients with borderline personality disorder, DBT has now been shown to be beneficial for numerous populations and settings. 

Join the movement as we combine DBT Skills with music therapy to support those we serve to build a life worth living!

Why DBT in Music Therapy? 

Wouldn’t it be great to have a repertoire of effective coping skills to pull out of a hat on a moment’s notice? 

An evidence based tried and true system of DBT skills you can adapt to your own clientele?

 An effective toolkit that works  even with clients who display impulsive behaviors and disregulated emotions?

Imagine …

…being able to articulate to your treatment team using common (DBT) terminology and language, interacting as a professional peer, and easily collaborating with team members in providing treatment.  

DBT Skills Training is one component of a DBT program, and this is the area that we music therapists can make our biggest contribution. Reinforcing the skills for mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness through music therapy can support your patients/clients who are involved in a DBT program as well as those who are not.

DBT skills are useful in our own lives as well! 

The use of music therapy interventions to help teach and reinforce DBT skills has started to grow a RESEARCH BASE. 

The Spiegel Academy offers a comprehensive DBT Informed Music Therapy Program! 

Complete the requirements to earn a credential with an endorsement as a DBT Informed Music Therapist.  Enrollment for the year long program opens once a year in March, and the in-depth program starts in April. 


What People are Saying about our DBT Informed Music Therapy Program:

Suzanne Makary- MT in

Adult Acute Mental Health

Partial Hospitalization


Suzanne a year later

Peggy Tileston-

MT Professor 

Betsey Carsle-

MT w/ Adults &


in Acute Inpatient

Psych Hospital

Victoria Mierlak- MT in

Adolescent Residential

Care: Mental Health w/

Criminal Charges

Chelsea Josephson-

MT  in Residential Treatment

for  Children with

Cognitive Delays &

Challenging Behaviors


I have worked in mental health for most of my music therapy career and have been exposed to DBT used with Borderline Patients. In my work I have wondered how DBT skills can be applied to music therapy (or vice versa) but have never really been able to do so in my groups. Since DBT is used in most mental health settings, it seems to pay to know how to combine the two. Much of what was presented can be directly applied/is directly applicable. I also learned how many, if not all, music therapy interventions (especially ones I often use) can support/reinforce DBT skills.  The material is relevant and useful.  There was a nice balance of theory/information presented and examples, suggestions, ideas that can be used immediately in the workplace.

 Yvonne Quilop


Having taken both the The Spiegel Academy’s Introductory and Intensive DBT informed MT trainings, I’ve found them to be exciting and practical. By pairing the skills of the traditional DBT modules with Music Therapy interventions, I have been better able to meet my clients where they are at and provide skills for them to move to a better place. Music Therapy is able to provide a bridge for teaching skills to those hard-to-reach clients in creative ways. After working in health care for over 10 years, I am very excited to see the partnership of DBT skills and MT interventions emerge as what is sure to be a frontrunner in best practices of care. Both DBT and Music Therapy are established practices that complement one another well, moving practice to a new level.

Kirsten D Sorensen


“This DBT informed Music Therapist training has been profoundly beneficial both personally and professionally. My intention was to learn tools to use with my clients, which I have, and the supervision has been priceless. The bonus to me is being able to implement the skills myself and how it has improved my own life.” 

Betsey Carle

Click here for more details

 about what people who work in a variety of settings

 are saying about their experience of our DBT Informed Music Therapy training

 and about integrating DBT into their music therapy.