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Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) Skills Groups

Disclaimer: This DBT site is intended for Australian audiences. Information is general in nature and should not be relied on for diagnosis or treatment. You should consult a mental health professional for advice on your particular problems and the most appropriate treatment options.

What is involved in Group Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)?

DBT Group programs which follow Linehan's program closely involve training in 4 key areas:

(1) Mindfulness techniques – techniques designed to increase the ability of clients to stay 'present focussed' and to overcome

the mental wrestle over unwanted intrusive thoughts, images & emotions.

(2) 'Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills' – skills at negotiating interpersonal challenges, especially confrontation and conflict.

(3) Emotion Regulation Skills – skills designed to replace unhelpful and/or destructive emotion coping approaches

(4) 'Distress Tolerance' Skills – skills to tackle the extreme emotional pain, often associated with crises.

While group therapy is a useful medium for teaching DBT coping skills, skills training is sometimes conducted in a one-on-one therapy context.

Integrating Group & Individual Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)

In practice many therapist use DBT skills as part of their treatment approach, particularly in the early stages of treatment for BPD, but may use other treatment techniques such as Schema Therapy and traditional CBT, in their treatment programs.

In fact it is possible to attend DBT Group Skills Training while receiving individual treatment by a therapist using an entirely different treatment approach. This is not usually problematic provided the individual therapist does not use a contradictory treatment approach and the individual therapist is aware of what is occurring in then DBT skills training program.

It is recommended that all participants in DBT skills groups be consulting an individual therapist simultaneously as group facilitators are unable to keep track of each participant's individual week to week struggles, and hence cannot adequately respond to crises in most cases.

Ideally the individual therapists assists the client in implementing skills acquired in the group.

Medicare Rebates for Group and Individual Therapy

The Medicare Better Access scheme provides rebates for both individual and group therapy delivered by psychologists and Clinical Psychologists for people with appropriate referrals.


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