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Date of Award


Degree Type

Dissertation (On-Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Committee Chair

Genevieve Arnaut, PsyD, PhD

Second Advisor

Adam Furchner, PhD

Third Advisor

Michel Hersen, PhD, ABBP


Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), a well-validated treatment for individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, has been shown to bring about positive changes in forensic and correctional populations. One goal of DBT is to reduce reliance on psychotropic medications, which is a common method of psychiatric treatment within correctional settings. However, few researchers have included medication use as an outcome measure in DBT studies. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether a modified DBT program might lead to reductions in reliance on medications among inmates. A total of l06 female inmates with at least one mental health diagnosis and perceived skills deficits were assigned to either a 6-month DBT group or a wait list comparison group. Outcome measures included number of PRN medication requests and number ofnon-PRN medications prescribed to the participants. Medication use was compared at pre- and posttreatment, as well as between DBT and wait list groups. Overall, the DBT group did not evidence significant decreases in medication use over the course of treatment. Also, the DBT group evidenced significantly greater use of some medications at both pretreatment and posttreatment than did the wait list group. Results do not support the hypothesis that DBT would lead to reductions in use of psychotropic medications. It is possible these results may reflect limitations in the study design or positive coping skills on the part of participants, rather than a true lack of treatment effects.


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