Contextually-Focused Dialectical Behavior Therapy (C-DBT) Fellowship

Contextually-Focused Dialectical Behavior Therapy (C-DBT) is a comprehensive treatment approach for persons who struggle due to their efforts to cope with a fundamental sense that they do not matter or belong. Rather than conceptualizing their distress as a result of an underlying disorder, C-DBT suggests that most persons’ behaviors are understandable reactions to invalidating, if not dehumanizing environments, which often occur on multiple levels (i.e. family, community, or culture). Thus, rather than seeing emotional dysregulation as the primary problem, it is understood as arising from efforts to cope with the desire to be recognized.

The Chronic Distress Model (CDM) is an attempt to understand psychological distress as an experience common to both clinical and non-clinical populations. C-DBT utilizes Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) to provide the structure of the treatment and the six behavior processes of the Psychological Flexibility Model (PFM) to understand the function of target behaviors.

The Center for Contextual Behavioral Practices is pleased to offer a 9-month fellowship intended to familiarize participants with Contextually-Focused Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Participants will learn the various components of C-DBT with an emphasis on function, process, and exposure rather protocols, facts and skills. To that end, participants will learn:

  1. The “Chronic Distress Model” as an explanation of emotional dysregulation applicable to a broader spectrum of clinical and non-clinical populations.
  2. The structure and processes of C-DBT.  This approach emphasizes experiential encounters in which participants learn to decouple historically-established behaviors from troubling emotions, thoughts, and memories, and select responses based on context and valued ends.  In doing so, participants experientially develop a sense that they can shape and direct their lives.
  3. The five skills areas of a C-DBT skills manual.

Most sessions will be a combination of didactic lectures, group discussions, experiential exercises, and case consultation.

The aim of the program is for participants to develop the interactional style of being with clients that empower them to develop freedom from over-learned automatic responses established in their past, and, in so doing, create opportunities for them to exercise the freedom to organize their behavior in relation to a future they desire.

Registration for the 2024-2025 fellowship will open in August, 2024. 


Master’s degree in social work, psychology, counseling, or related field required. 


The Professional Development Program at Crown Family School is a State of Illinois licensed provider of continuing education for social workers, clinical psychologists, professional counselors, and marriage and family therapists. License numbers: 159.000140, 168.000115, and 268.000004.

It is recommended that professionals review rules for their licensing board prior to applying to ensure that the content meets their renewal, and/or reciprocity requirements.


Tuition for the 2024-2025 fellowship will be announced in August 2024.

Tuition includes CEUs, course readings, instruction, and related materials. 


The schedule will be announced in August, 2024.


Paul Holmes, Director
Karishma Bhakta
Lindan Lawson
Tamara Sharifov

Persons who need an accommodation in order to participate in the fellowship should contact the Professional Development Program office at least two weeks in advance of the initial class for assistance.