DBT: Comparison of symptom improvement and program retention in those with and without trauma-related symptoms undergoing standard Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) or DBT-informed group

Alberta Health Services


Within the Edmonton Zone, Standard Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and DBT-informed group therapy has been used to treat a wide variety of patients, including those with emotion dysregulation, personality disorders, as well as mood, anxiety, and substance use disorders. Though generally found helpful across a variety of psychiatric difficulties, literature suggests that patients with comorbid PTSD and other trauma related symptoms have worse outcomes in DBT oriented treatments. Currently, the Edmonton zone does not triage nor distinguish patients with trauma related symptoms from those without, and services for both groups remain the same. However, literature suggests that trauma affected individuals treated with trauma-oriented therapies first as opposed to DBT oriented therapy may offer better outcomes.

We propose to collect data including patient demographics, symptoms, and attendance (including reasons for dropouts and poor attendance) from two Edmonton Zone DBT-informed group therapy programs, with special emphasis on trauma-related symptoms. By analyzing the data, we can determine if trauma related factors  are associated with dropouts or poorer outcomes and to what degree this may be happening. This will provide the foundation for future projects, such as development of additional trauma specific programs for example, and providing additional support for at-risk patients.

Roles and Responsibilities

This opportunity is looking for Edmonton Zone patient partners that have undergone group therapy in the last 5 years.  Ideally, the patient partner has previously attended one of the following Edmonton Zone programs:

  • Royal Alexandra Hospital: Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Advanced Skills group, or TIES
  • Hope and Wellness Centre: any groups on or after the year 2019
  • Grey Nuns Hospital: Dialectical Behavioral Therapy or CBT+ groups
Patient partners will be asked to:
  1. Provide feedback about wording of non-standardized patients questions
  2. Engage with group therapy patients and share information about the study, its value to program development in the future and encourage participant completion of rating scales
  3. Offer insights, perspectives and general feedback about project purpose and scope.
Time Commitment

This project anticipates starting June 2022. Time commitment could range from a one time meeting with study coordinators to an ongoing monthly engagement with study coordinators and patients in group therapy for up to several months or a possibly a few years.


This is a clinician driven study and is not funded. This would be a strictly volunteer opportunity at this time.

For more information or to apply please connect with:
Dr. Olga Winkler

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