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A Study of Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training for Spanish-Speaking Latina Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence
AuthorSoto-Lopez, Cyndy Guadalupe
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Introduction: There is a paucity of research investigating the efficacy of psychological treatments for survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV), although evidence is growing for Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) as an effective transdiagnostic approach. Despite the exponential growth of the Latinx population and literature suggesting that Latinx survivors experience the adverse mental health and physical effects of IPV disproportionately, the greater part of the extant intervention research has been conducted with non- Latinx White (NLW) samples. The present dissertation sought to address gaps in the literature by evaluating treatment outcomes among Latina survivors of IPV who underwent DBT for IPV skills training in Spanish. Idiographic contextual factors among survivors, sequelae of IPV, and culturally-relevant characteristics were explored. We speculated that the transdiagnostic nature of DBT would effectively accommodate the heterogeneity of sequelae among sample participants. Methods: Data for 19 Latinx female participants who received treatment at a community-based outpatient mental health clinic were examined via archival record review. The effects of DBT for IPV on symptoms of depression and anxiety as measured by PHQ-9 and GAD-7 scores from baseline to treatment completion were evaluated via matched pair t-tests. Clinical significance and high-end state functioning were calculated. Results: Seven participants completed treatment while three participants dropped out and nine participants were in ongoing treatment at the time of analysis. Among treatment completers, there was a statistically significant difference between pre- and post- treatment scores on the PHQ-9 (95% CI, 7.17, 19.98, t  = 5.185, p < .05) and on the GAD-7 (95% CI, 5.84, 18.16, t  = 4.768, p < .05). Discussion: Most participants exhibited clinically significant change and met criteria for high-end state functioning. Overall, study participants endorsed characteristics consistent with what has been documented in the literature about Latinx IPV survivors including low SES and a lack of previous behavioral health service utilization. Given the improvement in depression and anxiety symptomatology experienced by study participants, DBT skills training appears to be an effective intervention for Latinx IPV survivors. The low drop-out rate provides evidence for the acceptability of DBT with this population.