Dialectical Behavioral Therapy in Correctional Settings: The Gendering of Cognitive Behavioralism

Shoshana Pollack, Wilfred Laurier University
Kathleen Kendall, University of Southampton

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), a type of cognitive behaviouralism developed by Marsha Linehan, is increasingly being used within correctional settings. Originally designed as a treatment for borderline personality disorder, it is used most frequently with women. This paper provides a critical analysis of DBT. In order to provide the context within which DBT is rooted, we begin with a brief overview of key assumptions underlying cognitive behaviouralism. We then outline the main components of DBT and consider its use within and outside of coercive institutions. Finally, using documents and interviews, we will examine the strengths and limitations of specific DBT programmes within Canada and the United Kingdom. The ways in which DBT both enforces and resists gendered and racialized discourses will be emphasised.

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Updated 05/20/2006