Starting a DBT Skills Group

By Stephanie Vaughn, PsyD

This presentation is an excerpt from the online course “DBT in Practice: Mastering the Essentials”.

Highlights

  • DBT Skills Group has a leader and co-leader
  • Group lasts 1.5-2.5 hours
  • Members who cannot control open hostility toward others are not permitted in group
  • 7 DBT Group Rules
    • Missing 4 sessions in a row means the member is out of group
    • Group members support each other
    • Group members contact the leader if they are late or absent
    • Group members do not tempt one another
    • Group members do not form confidential or sexual relationships with one another
    • Group members have an individual therapist if they are suicidal or have severe disorders
    • Group members act sober

 

 


To start a DBT group, there are a few things that you will need. Depending on how your group is run, you will need between one and a half to two and a half hours of time. You will need a leader and a co-leader. You will 15 to 30 minutes to orient new members if they are joining group in the middle of a module. You will need consent and referral forms from each member’s individual therapist or the clinician who is their primary contact. You will need the referring provider’s contact information. And you will need to pick a schedule.

 


The tools that you’ll need are the DBT Skills Leaders Manual, 2nd Edition and the DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets, the 2nd Edition. These are the spiral bound handouts that you can also find online at no charge and can print out to distribute to group members. You will need fidgets and those are things that group members can play with such as clay or small balls, ice packs, a white board, copies of handouts for all group members, something to serve as a mindfulness bell and materials and videos for specific activities.

 


The only absolute exclusion criterion for group members to be admitted is that group members must be able to control their hostility toward others in group.

 


The rules of group are as follows. The only way to be out of skills trainings is to miss four in a row or to come to the end of the contracted agreement. So it is not possible according to DBT to be out of skills group unless four in a row are missed. In order for a member to come back into skills group is dependent upon the group leader, the rules of the facility and the group schedule that you’re running.

 


Rule number two, group members support each other. Number three, group members contact the leaders if they will be late or absent.

 


Number four, group members don’t tempt each other and this involves discussions about self-harm, impulsive activities, drug use, alcohol use, discussions that might be, as it’s referred to, triggering. Number five, group members do not form confidential or sexual relationships. If someone is involved in a sexual relationship with another group member, then one of the two group members should be referred to another group.

 


Rule number 6, group members with severe disorders or who are suicidal are also in individual therapy. They have a primary contact. And finally, number seven, group members must act sober. This is a change from a previous rule that group members must not use alcohol or drugs prior to coming to group and it was changed to group members must act or must behave in a sober fashion.

 


Key points for module 2 video 1. DBT skills group has a leader and a co-leader. The group lasts between an hour and a half to two and a half hours. Members are not allowed who cannot control open hostility toward others. There are seven DBT group rules including: Missing four sessions in a row means the member is out of group. Group members support each other, contact the
leader if they are late or absent, do not tempt one another and do not form confidential or sexual relationships with one another. Group members must have an individual therapist if they are suicidal or have severe disorders and group members come to group and act sober.

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