Course Summary

This 2-day live 'virtual' workshop will upskill practising mental health professionals in the use of use of Adapted Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) Coping Skills for Cognitively Impaired Clients with Challenging/Offending Behaviours

Originally designed by Dr Marsha Linehan (1993) for people diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, the use of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) has been expanded to a range of clinical populations, including those with substance abuse difficulties, individuals experiencing depression with comorbid personality disorders, and offenders. There is growing evidence for using DBT with individuals with cognitive impairment (e.g., Intellectual Disability, acquired brain injury, severe mental illness, Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder). DBT essentially utilises a behavioural approach to treatment, making it more appealing and potentially effective given the proven effectiveness of behavioural interventions for this population. Addressing psychological distress with the assistance of DBT based skills is thought to better equip individuals in managing their psychological distress and make relevant behavioural shifts. DBT can also be considered a strengths-based model and is consistent with psychoeducational and habilitative practice.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this, the training participants will be able to develop:

  • Knowledge and skills in using DBT reconceptualisation and skills in working with cognitively impaired individuals with challenging/offending behaviours.

  • Learn skills and techniques in the use of DBT coping skills with individuals with challenging/offending behaviours.

  • Introduce the adapted DBT coping skills group program, which can be utilised as a part of individual and/or group-based treatment.

  • Learn how to incorporate DBT reconceptualisation and skills in developing the client’s risk and behaviour management plans.

Course Overview (DAY 1)

Mental health professionals will increase their knowledge, skills and confidence in adapting DBT/coping skills for ID in a 2-day 'live' virtual workshop.

  • Introduction to Adapted DBT for ID

  • Introduction and application of Mindfulness (states of mind, including 'risky mind', wise mind and mindfulness exercises)

  • Introduction and application of Distress Tolerance and Emotion Regulation

  • Introduction and application of Chain analysis

  • Introduction and application of Interpersonal Effectivness

Course Overview (DAY 2)

  • An overview of Adapted DBT for ID visual supports/handouts

  • Introduction to and application of dialectical thinking

  • Validation Strategies exercises and Balance Treatment Strategies

  • The concept of the Risky Mind and its application to DBT  Risky Mind-Wise Mind Check In

  • Understanding and preventing burn-out and using self-care

Bonus material!

  • Adapted DBT manual

    Developed by Dr Joseph Allan Sakdalan (2020) this manualised program was designed for use of Adapted Dialectical Behaviour Therapy Coping Skills for Cognitively Impaired Clients with Challenging/Offending Behaviours (can be applied to other ID populations)

  • Adapted DBT Manual - supplementary handouts

    'Done for you' handouts for clients that are simplified and easy/easier to read and understand including visual supports.

  • Breakout rooms!

    This 2-day live virtual workshop provides lots of opportunities for reflection and skills-based practice in virtual 'break-out rooms' for 'real' interaction and engagement with your peers

Event Details

  • Upcoming Date(s)

    Thursday 18th and Friday 19th July 2024

  • Time

    9-5pm (AEST)

  • Breaks?

    Yes of course! - morning tea and afternoon tea (15 minutes each at 10.30am and 2.45pm) Lunch 12-12-45pm

Who is the course for?

This two-day online training workshop is suitable for mental health professionals (e.g., counsellors, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, psychiatrists, nurses, etc.) who work with complex clients (adults and adolescents) with cognitive impairment who exhibit challenging/offending behaviours (e.g., aggressive/violent behaviours, problematic sexual behaviours, criminal behaviours, etc.).

  • Provisional Psychologists / Psychologists

  • Behaviour Support Practitioners

  • Counsellors

  • Social workers

  • Occupational therapists

  • Nurses

  • Psychiatrists


Clinical Psychologist, Author & Trainer

Dr Joseph Allan Sakdalan

Dr Sakdalan is an NZ and AHPRA registered clinical psychologist, counselling psychologist, and clinical neuropsychologist with over 25 years of clinical experience conducting assessments and treating complex clients with mental health problems, neurodevelopmental and neurocognitive disorders, personality issues, and offending behaviours. He has worked across various sectors, including educational and hospital settings, community and inpatient psychiatric services, forensic disability and forensic mental health, and in private practice. Dr Sakdalan is a Lecturer in Clinical Psychology at the Cairnmillar Institute. He is the Unit Coordinator for the Advanced Assessments for Clinical Psychologists, which is a course for the Master of Clinical Psychology (Post-Registration) program. Dr Sakdalan is also a Senior Clinical Psychologist at the Problem Behaviour Program at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Mental Health (Forensicare) in Victoria, Australia. In addition, he runs a private practice in Auckland and Melbourne. He is passionate about teaching and mentoring psychologists and other mental health professionals to develop their skills in assessing and treating clients with complex presentations. Dr Sakdalan has pioneered the development, implementation and evaluation of innovative psychological programs such as the adapted DBT coping skills program for clients with intellectual disabilities with challenging/offending behaviours, and a suite of offence-related and offence-specific treatment group-based programs (e.g. sexual offending, family violence, general offending, treatment readiness, substance abuse) implemented in forensic and correctional services. Dr Sakdalan has written book chapters and peer-reviewed journal articles and has run training workshops locally and internationally in his specialty areas.


We sold out for our previous workshops in 2021, 2022 and 2023 so please register early to avoid missing out!

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