Friday, March 26, 2021
Metaphors and Storytelling for Teaching DBT Skills
Presenter: James J Esmail, PsyD

All Online Format via Zoom-Synchronous

1:00pm-4:15pm (please log in 15minutes prior to the workshop for registration verification).

Cost: $99.00

This workshop is intended to help participants identify how the use of metaphors and storytelling is crucial for clinicians practicing DBT individual therapy as well as those who conduct DBT skills training groups.


Thinking in metaphors is one of the crucial building blocks that allows humans to engage in abstract
reasoning. The ability to compare something that is abstract and difficult to something more concrete
and tangible is what has allowed humans to go beyond very simple cognition (Landau, Robinson,
and Meier, 2014) to understanding the more complex realities in life. 


Storytelling is being used with increase frequency in the realms of business, philanthropy, and
education to affect behavior change, and various writers point to how the human brain evolved,
including the capacity to tell and receive stories as a means to convey meaning and affect important
behavior change in the receiver. Hall points to the research of neuroscientists and notes that stories
capture attention, influence thinking and behavior, and transform the listener (Hall, p. 6) whereas
bombarding the listener with facts typically has no positive effect.

The presenter will share several examples of metaphors and stories that can be used in teaching DBT
skills for each of the four DBT modules (Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion
Regulation, Distress Tolerance). Participants will share metaphors and stories from their own
experience that may be helpful for teaching DBT skills in the interactive part of this workshop.


(1) identify what Linehan means by building a life worth living, and why skills training is vital for
achieving "a life worth living".
(2) identify how metaphors are an important tool in helping clients understand DBT skills and
examine several examples of DBT skills metaphors
(3) identify why storytelling is an effective means for teaching DBT skills and motivating clients to
practice the skills on a regular basis

About the Presenter:

Dr. Esmail is the author of the book DBT Metaphors and Stories: Understanding the Skills That Make Life Worth Living. He is a staff psychologist at the state psychiatric hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio (Summit Behavioral Healthcare), is in private practice, and is an adjunct professor in the Doctor of Psychology program at Xavier University.

Dr. Esmail has led DBT groups at both the state hospital and in his private practice for the last 12 years.  He has enjoyed seeing DBT change the lives of the patients he works with, but also recognizes how DBT has enhance both his life, and the lives of his group co-leaders, many of whom have been clinical psychology doctoral candidates from the University of Cincinnati, Xavier University, Wright State University, and Miami University.  

Continuing Education:

Waybridge Counseling will be providing 3 CEU credits for this workshop.  Waybridge is a Continuing Education Provider for the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & Marriage and Family Therapy Board. Continuing Education offered for counselors, social workers and marriage and family therapists: (Provider RCST031802).



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