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About Me

I'm Dr. Kiki Fehling.

I'm a licensed psychologist, author, speaker, and Linehan-Board-certified Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) expert therapist. Learning DBT changed my life. I've worked directly with hundreds of clients, helping them use DBT to overcome emotional suffering and build meaningful lives. I've also personally experienced the power of DBT skills in coping with the tough parts of life, including emotionally recovering from a heart attack. I'm passionate about sharing DBT skills and other mental health information with the world through social media, my book Self-Directed DBT Skills, and other writing.

 

Read below to find out more about my research background, clinical experience, and personal history. Check out my "Now" page to learn more about what I'm thinking about and working on currently.

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My Areas of Expertise

  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

  • DBT skills: mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness

  • LGBTQ+ mental health

  • Emotion dysregulation (i.e, feeling emotions intensely/easily, and having trouble managing them)

  • Suicide and self-harm, assessment and treatment

  • Borderline personality disorder, PTSD, trauma

  • Lived experience: heart attack recovery, depression, chronic pain, endometriosis

Educational History & Research Background

I have a B.A. in Psychology from Yale University, and a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Rutgers University. At Yale, I received a Solomon Summer Research Fellowship through the Office of LGBTQ Studies. This fellowship funded a qualitative research project I designed for my senior thesis, examining the experiences of LGBTQ+ elders discussing their sexuality with healthcare providers. At Rutgers, I was a member of Dr. Edward Selby's Emotion and Psychopathology Lab, coordinating several research studies on emotion dysregulation, nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI), suicide, and LGBTQ+ mental health. My master's thesis and dissertation examined the role of discrimination and minority stress in NSSI behaviors for sexual minority adults.

 

For my graduate research, I received several grants and awards, including the Malyon Smith Scholarship Research Award from Division 44 of the American Psychological Association, as well as the Psychological Science Research Grant from the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students. My work has been published in academic journals and presented at national conferences.

Clinical Experience

During my graduate training at Rutgers, I received specialized training and supervision in DBT for several years under Dr. Shireen Rizvi, a student of Dr. Marsha Linehan, the creator of DBT. I've attended multiple intensive DBT trainings through Behavioral Tech and other organizations, as well as a DBT-PE training with Dr. Melanie Harned (the creator of DBT-PE, an adaptation of DBT for PTSD). I'm also trained in Cognitive Behavior Therapy and several evidence-based trauma therapies, including Cognitive Processing Therapy and Written Exposure Therapy. I became a certified DBT therapist through the DBT-Linehan Board of Certification in 2021.

I have directly worked with hundreds of clients in both outpatient and inpatient settings, and I have supported other clinicians through DBT-focused consultation/supervision. I most recently worked as a staff psychologist at NYCBT in Manhattan, where I founded and coordinated the LGBTQ-affirmative DBT program.
I am a licensed psychologist in the state of New York and Rhode Island, but I am not currently seeing clients.

Personal Story

Always a "highly sensitive" and emotional person, I fell in love with DBT as soon as I learned about it. Every part of DBT just clicked for me — the practical coping skills, the radically genuine and collaborative therapeutic relationship, the focus on cultural and contextual factors in understanding emotional suffering, and the dialectical philosophy that both acceptance and change are needed for emotional health.

Learning and practicing DBT changed my life. It offered the tools I needed to cope with recurrent depression and chronic pain, recover from a heart attack at age 29, and deal with the other challenges of life. It offered the wisdom and courage needed to continue building my own Life Worth Living (the primary goal of DBT). Also, DBT has literally saved the lives of many of my clients, and I'm incredibly grateful to have been able to learn and provide it as a therapist.

At this point in life, I'm focused on figuring out the best ways to help the world (and myself) heal. I believe sharing DBT skills is a primary way I can do that. I'm happy you're here.

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