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Bridget's Blog

What happens in a DBT skills group?

DBT skills group offer cooperation and support.

So, you have decided to commit to attending a DBT skills training group. Congratulations on your decision! Now, let’s look at what a skills training group involves.

Typically a skills training group lasts for two and a half hours, and has five sections. First up is the mindfulness practice. At the start of every group we do some form of mindfulness practice, varying the practice so that we cover all the core DBT Mindfulness skills. Many people think of mindfulness as just sitting still and breathing! If this is you, then you will probably be quite surprised at the range of activities we undertake in our DBT Mindfulness practice!

We then review homework practice. Every week we teach DBT skills and participants practice the skills between sessions. In this part of group everyone has a turn reporting on how he or she got on with practicing the DBT skills we learnt in the previous week’s session. This is the opportunity to get more help and explanation from the group leader, and to learn from others’ experiences with skills rehearsal. Homework review is a really important and beneficial part of a DBT skills group, and we spend about an hour on this section.

The third section of the session is the break. Very important! We have tea, coffee and snacks, a chance for a chat, and on the last day of a module we usually have some kind of celebratory treat to eat. Participants can go outside for a while and have a break if they need it.

After the break we spend about an hour presenting and discussing a new DBT skill or skills. We describe the skills in detail, show how to practice them, and help participants identify situations in which they would be useful.

The last part of the group is the closing wind down during which everyone has the opportunity to make a comment or observation about the group, describing something he or she noticed, learned or reflected on during group.

As you can see, a DBT skills group is a very structured session, focused on teaching and learning. Skills group is not “group therapy”, nor is it a setting where people discuss personal issues or deal with current crises. Participants have individual psychotherapy sessions for dealing with these issues and crises. Self-disclosure is limited to what is required in order for participants to report on their use of skills in the homework review. Of course confidentiality in group is discussed in the first session and reviewed as needed.

Although many people are understandably anxious prior to their first session of a DBT skills group, usually after session 1 participants really enjoy and look forward to the group, and experience a lot of camaraderie and support from other group members. Many friendships start in skills groups! Our Dialectical Behaviour Therapy DBT groups in Brisbane are relaxed and informal – I am a firm believer in the idea that people learn best when they are relaxed and comfortable, and so that is the environment I aim to create in our DBT skills groups.

If you have any questions about our skills groups, please contact me via my Contact page. Looking forward to seeing you there!

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