The House of DBT Skills and Treatment

Sunrise Residential Treatment Center is considered to be one of the leading Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) treatment centers in the United States. DBT is an empirically-validated approach for working with mental health, and we employ it to help our adolescent girls (ages 13-17) and their families through therapy.

DBT was developed by American psychologist, Dr. Marsha Linehan, in the 1970s, to empower clients to establish the following core skills:

  1. Distress tolerance skills
  2. Emotion regulation skills
  3. Interpersonal effectiveness
  4. Mindfulness skills

Today, DBT is known as the gold-standard treatment for clients working on establishing those pertinent skills.

DBT is essentially a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) that assists clinicians in treating clients with issues such as:

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Binge-eating disorder or Bulimia Nervosa
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD), including those with
    • High irritability
    • Post-traumatic stress disorder
    • Self-harming behavior
    • Substance use disorder
    • Suicidal behavior or suicidal thoughts
  • Cluster B personality disorders
  • Major depression, including:
    • Those with chronic depression and one or more personality disorders
    • Treatment-resistant major depression
    • Pre-adolescent children and adolescents with severe behavioral and emotional dysregulation

DBT builds on CBT principles and skills training but goes beyond symptom management to improve functioning and to build a satisfying life for the client and her family.

This type of therapy allows clients to accept that the feelings they have are real, then establishes key trust and validation with their therapist, which is absolutely necessary for any change.

DBT Treatment Priorities and Stages

DBT therapy has four stages of treatment and four types of treatment priorities that are used by Sunrise to help guide teenage girls and their families in their individual therapy and group therapy, as well as improve their treatment.


  1. Life-interfering or suicidal behaviors.
  2. Therapy-interfering or treatment-interfering behaviors.
  3. Quality-of-life-interfering behaviors.
  4. Skills acquisition.


  1. Getting out of hell.
  2. Dealing with feelings.
  3. Ordinary problems.
  4. Spiritual fulfillment.

One common analogy that helps introduce the stages of this treatment to clients and families in therapy sessions is called the “House of DBT.”

The House of DBT

The House of DBT

The House of DBT, also known as the “DBT House of Therapy” and the “DBT House of Treatment,” is essentially just that – a house.

The House of DBT consists of four levels, or stages, which include:

  1. Basement
  2. First floor
  3. Second floor
  4. Roof

Each level represents a stage of the house and of the therapy that is key for improvement, problem-solving and progress in treatment.

Basement Level: House of DBT

Severe behavioral dyscontrol.

How does one move from being out-of-control to being in control? Is there an issue of over-control?

What other major issues need to be worked on?

First Floor Level: House of DBT

Quiet desperation.

How does one move from being emotionally shut down to experiencing emotions fully?

What emotional issues need to be improved?

Second Floor Level: House of DBT

Problems in living.

How does one build an ordinary life and solve their own ordinary life problems?

What everyday issues need to be worked on?

Roof Level: House of DBT


How does one move from incompleteness to completeness to experience true connection?

What dreams, goals or plans exist for the future?

The Ways that Sunrise Utilizes the House of DBT

Sunrise is a residential treatment center serving adolescent girls and their families. We help teenagers with mental illness or mental health issues, as well as teach the entire family how to integrate coping skills into their lives so that their daughters can return home with new-found health and self-esteem.

The House of DBT is an exercise to help adolescent girls:

  • Gain coping skills
  • Recognize their strengths
  • Strengthen support systems
  • Strengthen values

This intervention works by bringing attention to a teenage girl’s strengths as well as her supports while highlighting the areas of her growth and understanding of the stages she will experience through treatment.

“As a DBT residential treatment center, we emphasize DBT and its real-life application. If your daughter has been in outpatient therapy or another program that offers DBT, chances are that she could teach DBT skills with fluency. However, if you’re still not seeing the success you had hoped for, she’s likely missing one key piece: how to live DBT.”

DBT Treatment for Adolescent Girls and Families in Utah

Sunrise DBT and House of DBT treatment can easily be located by adolescent girls and their families in the St. George, Utah, or southern Utah areas.

Sunrise has two Utah locations that offer DBT treatment to teenage girls and their families – one in the town of Hurricane, Utah and one in the nearby town of Washington, Utah. These locations are both just a short drive from the city of St. George.

Each and every one of our teachers and therapists at Sunrise is credentialed and trained in DBT. These skills are, therefore, easily integrated into every aspect of a client’s life at Sunrise, where the expectation is for clients to begin to use their DBT skills to tackle any challenges that come with academics or life here.

While much of our therapy and work can be done within the healing walls of our centers and facilities, there is also a need to have real-world experiences as well. We work to show your daughter the good that can be found in the community and help her create and sustain it, which gives her hope for the future and the wonderful things that the world can offer to her. This includes engaging in life experiences in the surrounding community, from employment to service.

We invite you to learn more about DBT and House of DBT treatment, as well as individual and family therapy, on our website. You can also connect with one of our admissions counselors to learn more about Sunrise at: (855) 410-9081.

Our goal for all of our clients is to cultivate a passion for life and help them create a life worth living by using therapies like DBT treatment.

Contact us today to better understand how DBT and House of DBT treatment at Sunrise can help your daughter break free of self-destructive behaviors and help your family get on a path toward a life worth living.