Contextually-Focused Dialectical Behavior Therapy Fellowship Program

Contextually-Focused Dialectical Behavior Therapy Fellowship Program: 
Practicing a Functional Approach to DBT

Dialectical Behavior Therapy is a widely used form of cognitive-behavioral therapy with an emphasis on protocols, facts checking and skills acquisition.  It was originally developed to treat persons who engage in suicidal and/or para-suicidal behavior and in particular, women diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD).  Nonetheless, DBT has been shown to be effective with a number of clinical and non-clinical populations.  As a result, there are reasons to consider an approach to DBT that includes a model of emotion dysregulation applicable beyond BPD, and further delineates the application of acceptance and change in relationship to clients’ experience. 

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

Contextual Behavior Therapy Fellowship Program

  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 four skills areas of a C-DBT skills manual.

The sessions will alternate between didactic lectures, group discussions, experiential exercises, and case consultation.  Case consultation sessions include opportunities for participants to present cases and identify ways of intervening through an C-DBT lens.

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.

2022-2023 SCHEDULE

The fellowship meets two Fridays a month from 9:00am - 12:00pm CT, at the Crown Family School of Social Work, on the following dates:

October 14, 28
November 11, 18
December 9, 16

January 13, 27
February 10, 24
March 10, 31
April 14, 28
May 12


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


Participants who complete the program will receive 45 CEUs.

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

Alumni of the Crown Family School receive a 20% discount


The application process requires:

  • Completed application form
  • Resume
  • Brief personal statement reflecting your interest in the program

Online applications are preferred: 

You can also mail or email application materials to:

The Professional Development Program
The University of Chicago
Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice
969 E 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637 

Application deadline: July 15, 2022


Paul Holmes, Director
Nicole Gier
Nick Turner

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