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DBT IOP + Co-Occurring

About DBT IOP + Co-Occurring

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy For Teens & Young Adults

Most teens and young adults do not need this type of specialized program. But for young people struggling with severe depression, suicidal ideation, a history of self-harming behaviors, emotional imbalance and other forms of serious emotional difficulty. Treatment-as-usual generally does not meet their needs. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) teaches young people a wide variety of skills that they learn, practice, and are able to use to create a life worth living.

Potomac DBT IOP + Co-Occurring offers a warm, caring and supportive environment; experiential elements like yoga and mindfulness meditation; art therapy, music therapy and outings like hikes by the river, movie nights and relaxation exercises for self-care.

Although there are other DBT providers in the area, this program is adapted specifically for young people to address substance use disorder in addition to co-occurring mental health concerns. Recent research indicates that DBT can be effective in the treatment of substance use disorders for teens and young adults struggling simultaneously with serious emotional dysregulation (Dimeff, L. & Lineman, M., 2008). This program would not be appropriate for young people who do not have a substance use disorder.


  • Washington D.C. Area

Why It Works

The Potomac “DBT Intensive” program is an intensive outpatient program for teens and young adults with a substance use disorder and co-occurring mental health disorders which may be best treated with Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). The facility is licensed in the state of Maryland as an IOP substance abuse treatment provider. Level-of-care determinations in program placement are based on ASAM criteria and clinical criteria established by Behavioral Tech for adherent DBT programs.

Who We Help

Clients who are an appropriate match for this program may present at intake with any of the following symptoms: moderate-to-severe emotional dysregulation; history of non-suicidal self injury (cutting, for example); history of suicide attempt; eating disorder; mood disorder (mood disorders may include depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, for example). Adolescents and young adults 14 - 24 years may be accepted into the program.

The DBT IOP + Co-Occurring is appropriate for clients who are discharging from hospitalization, or who are returning home from residential treatment and require an intensive outpatient level of care. The program can also be appropriate for young people who do not require residential treatment, but who require a greater degree of clinical supervision and support than “standard DBT” outpatient programs.

Individuals with any of the following symptoms would not be appropriate for admission to this program: active psychosis, active suicidal intent, current intravenous drug use, or any current drug use requiring inpatient detoxification.

What Do I Get

Twelve Hours of Clinical Treatment Minimum Per Week

  • Five Pre-treatment Sessions
    (Initial Assessment, Bio-psychosocial Assessment, Family Therapy Session, Parent Orientation Session, and Individual Therapy Session). Pre-treatment is the preparatory phase of every DBT program that is adherent to the evidence-based model. The pre-treatment phase is usually completed in approximately one week.
  • DBT Skills Training Group
    Four times a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday) 4PM-7PM. Includes training in five modules of behavioral skills, described further on the other side of this page. Also includes specific DBT behavioral skills for substance use treatment.
  • 12-Step Speaker Meeting
    Meeting on Friday from 5PM-6PM. This is a one hour 12-step meeting conducted weekly in-house as part of the Friday Skills Training Group.
  • Peer Mentors
    Peer mentors are clean & sober young adults who receive training in peer counseling from Potomac Programs and are present in all groups and activities.
  • Weekly DBT Individual Therapy
    DBT intensive program elements (1 hour)
  • Bi-weekly Family Therapy
    Masters level therapists specializing in family systems (1 hour)
  • Bi-weekly Multi-Family Skills Groups
    Every other Thursday, 4PM-7PM
  • Phone Coaching for Clients (With Their Individual Therapist) and for Parents (With the Family Therapist)
    Phone coaching is a required part of adherent DBT. The therapist is on-call 24 hours/day for DBT skills crisis consultation to the client.
  • Bi-weekly Community Activities
    Licensed clinicians and staff conduct outings in the community in order to help generalize the practice of DBT behavioral skills from the program into the wider community environment.
  • Random Substance Use Testing
    Frequency determined by the severity of use.
  • Clinical Case Management
    Consultation with other treating professionals, schools, etc.
  • Two Masters Level Clinicians in Each Group
    Intensively-trained by Behavioral Tech in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.