DBT for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Path to Freedom from the Past


DBT-PTSD (“Path to Freedom from the Past”) is tailored to provide adherent, comprehensive DBT while treating Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. For clients beginning the program who want to treat PTSD as soon as possible, we offer DBT and Prolonged Exposure, following modifications by Dr. Melanie Harned, a DBT expert and researcher trained under Dr. Marsha Linehan. For clients who are not ready to start PTSD treatment right away but know they will want to do so in the near future, we provide Stage 1 DBT while preparing for PTSD treatment through psychoeducation about PTSD and managing symptoms. We are committed to using PTSD treatments with the largest evidence bases: Prolonged Exposure and Cognitive Processing Therapy.

Most PTSD treatments strongly suggest postponing treatment for people who are at risk of suicide or non-suicidal self-injury, have current substance abuse/dependence problems, or have other major quality of life interfering behaviors until these problems have been fully addressed. We are excited to offer a treatment that addresses PTSD as soon as possible, while simultaneously working on these other types of difficulties.

Primary goals of DBT-PTSD:

  • Establish safety and stability by learning and practicing DBT skills to target behavioral, emotional, and cognitive dysregulation.
  • Learn to use DBT skills to effectively manage PTSD symptoms.
  • Treat PTSD through Prolonged Exposure therapy while engaged in Stage 1 DBT treatment, for those clients who want to do so as soon as possible.
  • Work with therapists trained in PE and CPT for those clients who eventually want to do PTSD treatment but first want to resolve life-threatening or major quality of life interfering behaviors. This paves the way to beginning PTSD work as soon as the client is ready.
  • Build a life worth living, without PTSD.


DBT-PTSD is for those who have co-occurring diagnoses of PTSD and other concerns such as depression, anxiety, substance-use, chronic pain, insomnia, or behaviors that are life threatening or quality of life interfering.

Our therapists will assess your history and current symptoms at intake to determine your diagnosis and whether DBT-PTSD is a good fit for you.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder develops in response to having experienced or witnessed one or more traumatic events. Symptoms include:

  • Re-experiencing: Recurrent, upsetting recollections of the event(s); Recurrent distressing dreams; Feeling as though the event is happening again; Feeling extremely upset when reminded of the event(s); Having your body react intensely when things remind you of the trauma(s)
  • Avoidance: Avoidance of distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings that remind you of the traumatic event(s); Avoidance of people, places, and situations that remind you of the event(s)
  • Negative changes in thoughts and mood associated with the traumatic event(s): Difficulty or inability to remember important aspects of the traumatic event(s); Persistent and strong negative beliefs about self, others, or the world; Persistent, distorted thoughts about the cause or consequences of the event(s) that lead you to blame yourself or others for the event(s); Persistent negative emotional state; Lack of interest in significant activities; Difficulty feeling connected or close to others; Difficulty experiencing positive emotions
  • Feeling constantly anxious or on edge: Irritability and anger on a regular basis; Reckless or self-destructive behavior; Near constant scanning of surroundings for threats; Easily startled; Problems concentrating; Sleep difficulties


Your therapist, trained in DBT and evidence-based PTSD treatments, is committed to helping you build your life worth living, free of the past and PTSD symptoms, providing treatment-adherent, high quality therapy.

DBT-PTSD is for those who have co-occurring mental health and PTSD concerns. Participants want to treat their PTSD, either as soon as possible or after high-risk or major quality of life interfering behaviors have been effectively treated. Participants will be committing to taking high-risk behaviors off the table with the help of trained therapists, attending therapy regularly and practicing skills that are learned in treatment.

Treatment involves:

  • Once weekly individual therapy before engaging in PTSD treatment (50 minutes per session)
  • Once engaged in PTSD treatment, twice weekly individual therapy (50 minutes per session)
  • Once weekly group therapy (120 minutes per session)
  • Ancillary services as needed (medication management, nutrition management)


The first step in getting started is filling out our electronic interest form.

Electronic Interest Form

For general information about the program, please contact
Jason Fritts, LCSW, DBT-PTSD program manager, at jfritts@pdbti.org or (503)-290-3260.

For registration, insurance, and billing questions, please contact our Intake Team at referral@pdbti.org or (503) 290-3291.