The TI in DBT-TI stands for Trauma Informed. The Gold Coast DBT Clinic’s DBT-TI program is trauma informed meaning that the facilitators use an approach that is suitable for individuals who have had a traumatic experience in their lives. The program is also deemed to be suitable for individuals with no trauma history in their background. We do not discuss trauma in our DBT-TI Skills Group and the focus is on acquiring resources. 


DBT-TI support the notion that DBT refrains from exposure-based treatment of childhood trauma until the consumer has stabilised—that is, until suicidal and other extreme behaviours are under control and the consumer reliably copes with emotional pain with skilful behaviours. 


Is DBT-TI Evidence Based?

The DBT-TI approach, developed by Dr. Peter King, is informed by the ‘gold standard’ evidence based approach Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). DBT-TI is also informed by the evidence from the recovery based approach, trauma informed practice, the flipped learning method, mindfulness as well as the insights gained through Dr. King’s clinical practice (individual & group therapy, supervision of other mental health practitioners, PhD research and facilitation of international workshops in DBT and trauma informed approaches).


What are some of the key features of DBT-TI?

    • – Focus on resource strengthening & acquisition leaving trauma memories and responses to be processed when an individual has a sufficient level of safety & stability
    • – Embracing avoidance as a clinical resource for managing distress rather riding “the wave” of the emotions or addressing types of avoidance (excluding avoidant behaviours which are considered to be deliberate self-harm, these behaviours are addressed immediately)
    • – Adopting an adapted Phase Based Approach rather than DBT Stages of Treatment. A Stabilisation Based Therapy adoption within the Phase Based Approach acknowledges need for containment and de-escalation before teaching resources and skills before processing and insight based work
    • – Giving individual clients choice in learning skills online or in one on one sessions if groups are triggering and/or stress inducing
    • – Adoption of a flipped learning approach to teaching skills and resources
    • – Externalising the teaching of skills through observation of skills being or not being used in pop culture – sitcoms, movies, advertisements and YouTube videos
    • – Enhanced approach to In-Session Targets which includes family violence being recognised as a level 1 priority target
    • – Increased focus on control including within therapeutic sessions
    • – Increased focus on the autonomic nervous system and the response of the body to trauma and extremely stressful memories
    • – Integration of a supervision approach that is recovery focused and trauma informed in addition to consultation teams
    • – Working within a regulation zone or the therapeutic window and not outside it