The use of dialectical behavior therapy skills training as stand-alone treatment: a systematic review of the treatment outcome literature

J Clin Psychol. 2015 Jan;71(1):1-20. doi: 10.1002/jclp.22114. Epub 2014 Jul 14.


Objective: Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skills training is currently being administered as stand-alone treatment across a variety of clinical settings, serving diverse client populations. However, there is little empirical support for this use.

Method: In this systematic review, we identified 17 trials employing a treatment that included DBT skills training in the absence of the other DBT modalities.

Results: While the literature reviewed provides preliminary evidence of the utility of DBT skills training to address a range of mental health and behavioral problems, methodological limitations of published studies preclude us from drawing strong conclusions about the efficacy of skills training as a stand-alone treatment.

Conclusion: We present an overview of the implementation of DBT skills training across clinical settings and populations. We found preliminary evidence supporting the use of DBT skills training as a method of addressing a range of behaviors. We provide recommendations for future research.

Keywords: DBT; dialectical behavior therapy; review; skills training.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Behavior Therapy / methods
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Psychotherapy, Group / methods
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome