Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School


Committee Member

Michelle R. Byrd, Ph.D., Chair

Committee Member

Tamara Loverich, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Thomas Schmitt, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Diane Parfitt, Ph.D.


Dialectical Behavior Therapy is the primary empirically supported treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder. This multi-modal treatment consists of individual therapy, group skills training, the availability of 24-hour phone coaching, and weekly consultation meetings for therapists. A recent trend in Michigan Community Mental Health has been to add an additional component to traditional DBT, the inclusion of peer-provided services. In this role, graduates of DBT programs become members of the DBT team and may function to provide services at a variety of levels. Currently, no research exists examining this potential new treatment modality. The purpose of the current qualitative and descriptive study was to investigate this new component of DBT and examine the roles and experiences of DBT peerproviders, as well as the DBT therapists who work alongside them. It was hypothesized DBT peer-providers will find their job rewarding yet have difficulty with the transition from being a client to a provider. Additionally, it was hypothesized DBT peer-providers will experience lower levels of burnout than DBT therapists. Participants were thirty-eight DBT therapists and nineteen DBT PSSs employed in Michigan Community Mental Health agencies. Results found that both DBT therapists and PSSs view the PSS position favorably. Transitions from DBT client to provider were generally nonproblematic for both samples; however, few PSSs were hired to work on DBT teams where they previously received services. Although both samples experience moderate levels of burnout, PSSs had significantly lower scores of burnout than therapists on one subscale. Although results revealed numerous positive findings, several areas of growth for the PSS movement were identified. These include inadequate training and vague ethical guidelines. The implications of these results, limitations of the present study, and directions for future research are discussed.