The Case of "Sonia" Through the Lens of Dialectical Behavior Therapy


  • Sara Geisser
  • Shireen L. Rizvi



borderline personality disorder, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, case formulation, case study, clinical case study


Scherb (2014) describes the case of Sonia, a 44-year-old woman with severe and complex presentation of borderline personality disorder, along with diagnoses of bipolar disorder, trichotillomania, borderline intellectual functioning, and obesity. At the end of 10 years of therapy with decreasing frequency, Sonia has made a dramatic recovery from almost all of her presenting symptoms. Scherb's therapeutic approach was based on Fernández-Álvarez's Integrative Psychotherapy Model, which incorporates behavioral, cognitive, and emotional components. In this commentary we look at Sonia's psychopathology and treatment through the lens of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, a highly developed treatment model that has shown impressive success in treating individuals with borderline personality disorder and that also combines behavioral, cognitive, and emotional components. A comparison of a DBT approach to Sonia's case with the approach Scherb actually employed reveals many similarities in proposed treatment strategies, as well as differences in the format and delivery of treatment.  

Author Biographies

Sara Geisser

San Fishman, Ph.D. Editor-in-Chief, Pragmatic Case Studies in Psychotherapy Professor of Clinical and Organizational Psychology Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology Rutgers University Mailing address: 57 Jaffray Court Irvington, NY 10533 914-693-8549 fax: 603-917-2567 email:

Shireen L. Rizvi

Shireen L. Rizvi




How to Cite

Geisser, S., & Rizvi, S. L. (2014). The Case of "Sonia" Through the Lens of Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Pragmatic Case Studies in Psychotherapy, 10(1), 30–39.