Radically Open Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (RO DBT)
At The Dorm, we offer Radically Open Dialectical Behavioral Therapy ( RO DBT), a cutting-edge, evidence-based therapeutic modality to treat multiple clinical diagnoses characterized by overcontrol, including but not limited to OCD, anorexia nervosa, and refractory depression.
Radically Open DBT strives to help clients foster openness, flexibility, and prosocial behavior through self-inquiry practiced with a clinician and in group therapy. The ultimate goal of RO DBT is to help clients become less encumbered by strict and rule-governed behaviors that may negatively impact their quality of life.
Radically Open DBT is a therapeutic theory and practice with over 20 years of clinical experience and research. It was originally pioneered and developed by Dr. Thomas R. Lynch for difficult-to-treat disorders of excessive self control, or overcontrol (OC). It has roots in behavioral and dialectic therapy, and also includes elements of mindfulness, CBT, Gestalt therapy, motivational interviewing, and affective neuroscience.
RO DBT theorizes that self-control falls on a spectrum of undercontrol to overcontrol, with optimal wellbeing falling somewhere in the middle. With the help of specially trained clinicians, clients learn to regulate emotions to ultimately improve communication, connection and quality of life.
At its core, RO DBT:
Acknowledges that we are social beings and thrive in interconnectedness.
Helps clients improve wellbeing by focusing on developing openness, receptivity, flexibility, and ultimately social connectedness.
Theorizes that our tendencies of control exist on a spectrum and that we can practice optimizing our tendencies to improve wellbeing.
RO DBT utilizes self-inquiry exercises to help clients become aware of their behavior in a safe setting, and then develop and use prosocial signaling to better connect with others.
As clinicians, we practice radical openness alongside clients in weekly group work. This includes practicing skills in self-inquiry to understand how we’re relating to others, as well as using prosocial signaling to promote an environment of learning and growth.
In DBT, clients focus on regulating emotional responses, while in RO DBT, clients work on inhibiting their overcontrolled emotional responses. This helps them to form more open and authentic interactions with others.
Problems with DBT for Clients with Overcontrol (OC)
Comprehensive DBT is an excellent therapy for clients who have less control over their emotional responses to an extent that it negatively impacts their lives. For clients that deal with overcontrol, however, DBT has limitations and can be less effective.
For instance, individuals who highly self-regulate their emotions may eventually express their needs through outbursts or emotional crises. While these crises may read as an emotional regulation problem, the root of the issue may actually be exhaustion from overcontrol. By learning to express emotions sooner, clients can learn to get their needs met without resorting to panic or crises. RO DBT teaches the vital social skills of self expression, openness and connection.
What to Expect
At The Dorm, each client’s team of therapists & clinical coaches will communicate when it’s appropriate to integrate RO DBT into a treatment plan. Treatment may include:
Skills & Process Group:
RO DBT Group Therapy at The Dorm meets twice a week (3 total hours per week) and is led by licensed clinicians who have specialized training in RO DBT. Clients enrolled in Radically Open DBT use a diary card or app to keep track of their behaviors from the days that they do not see their group.
RO DBT group clinicians are available to clients over the phone when a crisis comes up and a client doesn’t know how to effectively cope. This allows clients to reinforce the skills they are learning in the skills group between sessions. In addition, clients have access to a 24/7 Dorm hotline which connects them directly to a Dorm clinician.
For clients who respond well to RO DBT, therapists and coaches can help family members learn the framework of RO DBT skills to continue the work in real life settings.
The Goals of RO DBT at The Dorm:
RO DBT helps foster authenticity through self-inquiry, thus promoting greater interconnectedness. Self-inquiry in RO DBT is a form of mindfulness that asks clients to notice the way in which they interact with the world and with others. By discovering and working through specific self-inquiry exercises together as a group, RO DBT ultimately helps clients be more present in their daily lives and interactions with others.
From there, the main goals of group and individual RO DBT are:
To teach clients how to become less encumbered by strict and rule-governed behaviors.
To help clients develop openness and a willingness to accept new ideas, ways of thought and other people.
To give clients an opportunity to practice skills in a group setting of how to cope with their emotions in a healthy and advantageous way.
Who Can Benefit from RO DBT?
Radically Open DBT can benefit clients with difficult to treat disorders that are characterized by overcontrol, including:
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Treatment Refractory Depression (TRD)
Most clients that seek out radically open DBT may be struggling with:
Behavioral and cognitive inflexibility
Inhibited an/or disingenuous emotional expression
Highly detail-focused processing & perfectionism
Overly cautious behavior
Lack of social connectedness
Restricting behaviors including restricting diet
Aloof and distant style of relating to others
High social comparison and envy
Radically Open DBT Services at The Dorm
Radically Open DBT (RO DBT) is new transdiagnostic therapy that can benefit young adults with issues of overcontrol (OC). It’s about empowering individuals to become more self aware and thus form more meaningful relationships with others, creating a positive feedback loop of feelings of belonging, connection and ultimate wellbeing.
The Dorm is dedicated to supporting young adults as they work through inhibition and overcontrol through skill-based learning and the power of community. Our Radically Open DBT services can be a touchstone for certain clients as part of this treatment and therapeutic process.