Trinitas Regional Medical Center adds form of psychological therapy to training offerings

ELIZABETH, NJ — Trinitas Regional Medical Center has expanded its training capabilities with the creation of the Institute for Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which uses the therapy to treat a range of emotional disorders.
The institute, unveiled earlier this month, will allow psychologists interested in expanding their skill set to include DBT to receive formal training from Trinitas group of eight psychologists.

The therapy is typically used to treat borderline personality disorder, but can also be effective in treating other conditions, such as disorders related to eating, substance-use, mood and post-traumatic stress, according to James McCreath, vice president of psychiatry and behavioral health at Trinitas.

“We happen to have a cadre of very experienced therapists who have been training staff for a while as well as providing this care and we thought that this would be a good step for us to move up to the level of an institute to offer formal training,” McCreath said in a June 20 phone interview with LocalSource.

Both the adult and adolescent DBT teams have been trained by Behavioral-Tech, a business created in collaboration with Dr. Marsha Linehan, who developed the therapy.

The Trinitas Comprehensive Outpatient DBT programs for patients consist of weekly individual therapy, group therapy and phone coaching between sessions. The main goal of this type of therapy is to help patients with their emotional regulation. McCreath said this is similar to someone controlling a thermostat.

“We want to help people to understand how they can control their own emotional regulation and how they can have some ability to moderate and manage it better similar to how one would control a thermostat,” he said.

“In our interpersonal world, other people may not understand someone’s emotional extremes and then, consequently, interpersonal issues develop. Relationships become problematic and work issues can too,” McCreath added.

Psychologists who come to the institute for training will be working with Trinitas patients while being supervised by the “core team,” he said.
“The institute’s core philosophy is that everyone should have access to comprehensive, quality DBT. We are committed to providing treatment and training in a compassionate, individualized, and effective manner that emphasizes the balance between acceptance and change,” Dr. Essie Larson, a member of the Trinitas core team, said in a recent release from the hospital.

“Our ultimate goal is assisting our clients in building lives worth living, and training clinicians to help individuals do so,” Dr. Atara Hiller, another core team member, said in the release.

As a part of their training, psychologists learning DBT will have their sessions recorded in order to receive feedback from supervisors, who will also be able to watch the sessions live, McCreath said.

“There’s very intense supervision with this because these are people who are looking to develop their skills, so everything that they say or do — both verbal and nonverbal behavior — in the room is very important,” he added.

In addition, one- or two-day training conferences may be offered in the near future.
“Trinitas has always been a teaching hospital and this is truly an extension of our mission to train,” McCreath said.