Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Psychology (Psy.D.)



First Advisor

Raymond DiGiuseppe

Second Advisor

Imad Zaheer

Third Advisor

Wilson McDermut


This study examined the efficacy of the Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) module of Interpersonal Effectiveness compared to Traditional Assertiveness Training. In recent years, DBT has become one of the most effective psychotherapeutic treatments for individuals with borderline personality disorder (Linehan et al., 1991). DBT has been determined to be effective across inpatient, outpatient, and school settings and across multiple populations (i.e., BPD, PTSD, eating disorders, etc.). Traditional Assertiveness Training has been forgotten despite some of its skills being similar or identical to DBT (Goldfried et al., 2017). In the past, Assertiveness training was found to be effective across various populations. Given the effectiveness of both treatments, it is surprising that there needs to be more empirical evidence comparing specific components of DBT as a standalone treatment versus traditional assertiveness training. This study aimed to (1) add to what we already know about these evidence-based treatments and (2) shed some light on the forgotten assertiveness training. The design of this study was a randomized control trial that sought to answer the following research question: What is the difference between the efficacy of the DBT module of Interpersonal effectiveness compared to traditional assertiveness training? In a sample of 20 participants, ten were in the DBT trial, and ten were in the traditional assertiveness trial. The study compared the effectiveness of each treatment to determine if one treatment was more effective than the other. The results support the hypothesis that Interpersonal Effective is more effective than Assertiveness within the area of Avoidance Behaviors. There was no evidence found for a within-subjects effect of treatment amongst Nonassertive, Aggressive, and Social Problem Solving. Lastly, there was a significant effect for time for both treatments within the area of Fear relating to social interactions. These findings provide researchers with baseline empirical evidence for future replication studies in this area. These findings also provide practicing school psychologists with insight into the effectiveness of skills-based treatment as a standalone intervention.

Available for download on Friday, March 08, 2024

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