In most therapies, therapists and clients have little to no contact with each other outside of scheduled sessions. In DBT, however, phone contact outside of sessions is important and encouraged. Phone coaching is usually used when clients are in crisis and in need of help in the moment. One of the main goals is for therapists to help their clients to decrease suicidal and self-harm thoughts and behaviours. Coaching also allows therapists to aid their clients in applying skills they learned through therapy to real life situations.
For example, following a breakup a client feels overwhelmed with sadness and experiences an urge to self-harm through cutting. At that point, the client calls her therapist and describes these feelings. The therapist then works with the client to apply skills such as distress tolerance (e.g., distraction) in order to effectively cope with the emotion without engaging in self-harm. This not only helps to the client to successfully deal with the difficult situation, but also increases her general ability to apply skills to her real life outside of therapy.