Initially designed by Dr Marsha Linehan (1993) for people diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, 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 equip individuals better to manage their psychological distress and make relevant behavioural shifts. DBT is also a strengths-based model consistent with psychoeducational and habilitative practice. 

Learning Objectives

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

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

(2)   Learn skills and techniques in using DBT coping skills with individuals with challenging/offending behaviours.

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

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

(5)   Learn how to utilise DBT skills to manage staff burnout and self-care issues. 

Who should attend?

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.).  

Please visit this website to register: https://courses.theemotionsclinic.com.au/courses/28-29thJuly2023-adapted-dbt-for-intellectual-disability-with-dr-joseph-allan-sakdalan 

Please email Dr Sakdalan at jaspsychology@icoud.com if there are any queries. 

Here are some of the lovely participant feedback: 

“I've done heaps of DBT training, and this has been the best - Joseph got us to reflect on our strategies too and reflect on self - while also providing information - super impressed and great addition to your suite of training!!” 

“When is the next workshop?! I really want my whole team trained in this Adapted DBT for ID manual -this concrete, simplified, visual approach has a lot of broader applications beyond ID.”  “DBT is now such a well-known (and loved!) intervention by many mental health professionals. It's so great to be flexible in adapting DBT techniques with individuals with ID.” 


Dr Joseph Allan Sakdalan

BSc, MA, MPH, MD, MScForPsych, PhD CPsych


Dr Joseph Allan Sakdalan

Dr Sakdalan is an NZ and AHPRA registered clinical psychologist, counselling psychologist, and clinical neuropsychologist who has over 25 years of clinical experience with complex clients with mental health issues, cognitive problems, intellectual disability, developmental disorders, and challenging/offending behaviours. His colleagues pioneered the adapted DBT coping skills program for clients with intellectual disabilities with challenging/offending behaviours. In addition, he has developed a suite of offence-related and offence-specific treatment group-based programs (e.g. sexual offending, family violence, general offending, treatment readiness, substance abuse) for forensic and correctional services. Dr Sakdalan has written book chapters and peer-reviewed journal articles in his speciality areas. He has run training workshops on the Adapted DBT program locally and internationally.