What is a DBT Skills Group like?
This is one of the most common questions I get asked by potential DBT Clients. They are often concerned that DBT Skills Groups (an essential component of Dialectical Behavior Therapy) is like other kinds of groups they have participated in or heard about; in particular, people often visualize something they have seen in a movie :a crowded, sterile medical facility or a small cramped office with people jammed in like sardines. They imagine that there is a lot of sharing of personal stories and that it is very depressing.
Have I got a surprise for you!
Marsha Linehan once said that the best training a DBT therapist could receive in order to be an effective DBT Skills Class Trainer is Improvisational Training -that’s right- training to be a standup comic! Well I won’t claim to be a stand-up comic but the idea is that DBT Skills Training Group Leaders model an irreverent approach to life when they are leading skills training. The group sessions involve some lecture and teaching of new skills but we also use role pays, film clips, experiential exercises- especially when practicing mindfulness- and invigorating discussion. Oh and we laugh a lot!
“Why have the DBT Skills Group at all? I don’t like Groups. I’m afraid people are looking at me and judging me”
This is another important question and here is the scoop. My DBT Skills Training Groups are full of ordinarily extraordinary people – high functioning people – who have one thing in common: they all want to learn new skills to improve their lives. They want better tools for emotion regulation, increased ability to live in the present moment with full awareness, reduced suffering, and improved relationship quality.
The DBT Skills Group is necessary to achieve MAXIMUM learning. Adult learning theory suggests that adults learn best when they are with other adults in a similar context. Often when a client graduates form my DBT Skills Training Program that graduate will say, ” I never thought I could do a group but it helped me the most to hear other people’s reports on how they practiced and used the skills”. What they are saying is that the group members played a key role in learning the material.
“What is required of me in group? Do I have to listen to other people’s horror stories?”
After so many years teaching DBT Skills Groups it still fascinates me that we can limit a person’s sharing in group to the 2-3 minutes they share their skills practice at the beginning of each class session and still the group members report they feel supported, connected and validated at each session. Here is what we require: 1. Show up 2. Stay until the end 3. Do the homework 4. Report on it in class 5. Then go back to number 1.
In DBT Skills Training we tell participants to just “throw yourself in”. Do it all the way. And we know it is hard. And we know judgments will inevitably arise in ourselves and other DBT Skills Group members. And we just ask you to try as best you can to take a non-judgmental stance about the whole thing.
DBT Skills Group teaches the skills that you will practice, with the help and support of your DBT therapist, in your everyday life. Your individual DBT therapist helps you generalize the skills to day-to-day situations and problems. DBT Skills Group is the cornerstone of the DBT Treatment.
Still not sure if DBT Skills Groups are for you? Call Me! I’ll give you examples of how these very skills help people who GET THEIR LIVES BACK!. You can do it. Call me at (408) 780-1150 or fill out the form below and she’ll get in touch with you.