Modified DBT reduces inmates' anger and aggression.
CHICAGO -- A modified form of dialectical behavioral therapy Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a psychosocial treatment developed by Marsha M. Linehan  specifically to treat individuals with borderline personality disorder. may be an effective and economical intervention for reducing anger and aggression among prison and jail inmates, Dr. Robert L. Trestman said during a poster session at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law.
"Our data suggest that within the prison environment, individual psychotherapy may not be a critical component for success, which may make our approach a far more affordable intervention within many prison systems," said Dr. Trestman, professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut The University of Connecticut is the State of Connecticut's land-grant university. It was founded in 1881 and serves more than 27,000 students on its six campuses, including more than 9,000 graduate students in multiple programs.
UConn's main campus is in Storrs, Connecticut. in Farmington.
Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), pioneered by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D., was developed to treatment outpatients diagnosed with borderline personality disorder bor·der·line personality disorder
A personality disorder marked by a long-standing pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, behavior, mood, and self-image that can interfere with social or occupational functioning or cause extreme .
"We realized from our experience and that of many others that [dialectical behavioral therapy] was a very useful tool for helping to reduce impulsive aggression, manage suicidal behavior, and reduce self-mutilation behaviors in the community, and I postulated that we could adapt it in a cost-effective manner for use in prison settings," Dr. Trestman said.
Mindful that more than one-third of prisoners have suffered traumatic brain injury Traumatic brain injury (TBI), traumatic injuries to the brain, also called intracranial injury, or simply head injury, occurs when a sudden trauma causes brain damage. TBI can result from a closed head injury or a penetrating head injury and is one of two subsets of acquired brain , Dr. Trestman and his colleagues converted the DBT manual and handout information to a fifth-grade reading level. A cohort of 63 inmates at three Connecticut prisons was recruited to receive 16 weeks of twice-weekly DBT-informed skills training, followed by random assignment to 8 weeks of either skills coaching or case management.
After 6 months, there was substantial improvement on the Buss-Perry Aggression (BPA) questionnaire dimensions of physical aggression, anger, and irritability. No changes were seen in BPA scores for verbal aggression or hostility, nor for hostility as assessed using the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale. No difference was found between the two groups randomized to skills coaching or case management.
BY BRUCE K. DIXON