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DBT Therapeutic Component Added to Program for People Struggling with Depression
October 12, 2017

New approach integrated with music therapy.

Bethlehem, PA -- St. Luke’s University Health Network has added a therapeutic component, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), to its Partial Hospitalization Program/Innovations, an outpatient group therapy program for those struggling with depression, anxiety, stress issues and other mental health challenges.  

DBT is another way to provide skills that help people with mental health issues make their lives worth living, said Suzanne Makary, a music therapist at St. Luke’s. “DBT helps patients identify thinking patterns or emotions that contribute to their negative thoughts and helps them learn how to turn them around and make them manageable,” she said. “It helps patients identify the things they are struggling with and learn strategies and skills to make changes that are necessary in their lives.”

DBT is incorporated in group skills training classes that are offered to those in need of help but not hospitalization. St. Luke’s has the only Behavioral Health partial program in the region emphasizing this technique.

In addition to DBT, the program includes educational classes on topics such as insomnia, diet, exercise and medication, and relaxation techniques. Groups also assist people with drug/alcohol issues learn about sobriety and how it interacts with overall emotional wellness.

About an hour of the daily program is dedicated to DBT during music therapy, Makary said. Music therapy uses listening, singing and playing music and musical instruments to improve and maintain a patient’s mental health. “Music therapy focuses on skills they can use right now in their lives to make them better,” Makary said. Music therapy groups focus on the four main components of DBT – Mindfulness, Emotion Regulation, Distress Tolerance and Interpersonal Effectiveness.

DBT is an evidence-based therapy developed in 1993 that originated for people who were chronically suicidal. However, the research indicates its benefits for all mental health challenges and those seeking a better life, Makary said. “We practice skills that can help people make healthy choices and learn to tolerate and deal with the stressors in their lives,” she said. For example, she said, patients are taught how to focus on other things so that overdue bill notice that came in Saturday morning’s mail won’t ruin their weekend and keep them depressed. “They learn how they can make healthy choices so that they can wait until Monday to call and straighten it out.”

Patients are encouraged to take an active part in their treatment, Makary said. “We want them to take the skills they learn home and practice them,” she said.

The Partial Behavioral Health treatment program is held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday for about two weeks at the Eaton Avenue Behavioral Health Center. Groups have 10 or fewer patients in them. The program can accommodate up to 18 a day.

For more information, call the Partial Hospitalization Program/Innovations at 484-526-3838.

Media Contact:

Sam Kennedy, Corporate Communications Director, 484-526-4134, samuel.kennedy@sluhn.org

About St. Luke’s

Founded in 1872, St. Luke’s University Health Network (SLUHN) is a non-profit, regional, fully integrated and nationally recognized network providing services at seven hospitals and more than 270 outpatient sites. The network’s service area includes Lehigh, Northampton, Carbon, Schuylkill, Bucks, Montgomery, Berks and Monroe counties in Pennsylvania and in Warren County in New Jersey. Dedicated to advancing health education, St. Luke’s operates the nation’s oldest School of Nursing and 23 graduate medical educational programs and is considered a major teaching hospital, the only one in the region. In partnership with Temple University, St. Luke’s created the region’s first Medical School. Repeatedly, including 2017, St. Luke’s has earned Truven’s 100 Top Major Teaching Hospital designation as well as 50 Top Cardiovascular program in addition to other honors for clinical excellence. St. Luke’s is a multi-year recipient of the Most Wired award recognizing the breadth of St. Luke’s information technology applications such as electronic medical records, telehealth, online scheduling and pricing information. St. Luke’s is also recognized as one of the state’s lowest cost providers in comparison to major teaching hospitals and other health systems.