Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) Skills Program is an effective treatment for people experiencing frequent and intense changes in emotional state, often leading to self-damaging behaviours. A substantial body of research has shown that DBT helps people experiencing emotional dysregulation to learn new skills to manage emotions. The DBT Skills program at Northside Group Clinics is focussed on the skills training component of DBT in the form of 8-week closed groups for each of the modules. The program is highly structured and includes sessions dedicated to learning mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. The modules are outlined in more depth below.
Many people with emotional dysregulation react impulsively to emotions and can feel under ‘emotional duress’. Mindfulness skills are a core component of DBT because the skills help people to become more aware of their state of mind and learn how to respond to emotions on the basis of their ‘wise mind’. The skills introduced will demystify mindfulness by breaking the process down into steps that can be practiced. Mindfulness skills can help people to experience the present moment and overcome habitual, negative judgements about themselves.
The distress tolerance module is focused on developing practical crisis survival skills. These set of skills help people to reduce their reliance on problematic ways of coping with intense emotions. Distress tolerance skills are essential to overcome behaviours associated with distress intolerance and impulsivity, such as substance use, disordered eating, and self-harm.
Emotion regulation is at the heart of the DBT Skills program. This module begins with developing an in-depth understanding of emotions: this is a prerequisite in learning how to regulate emotions. The module also includes cognitive and behavioural skills that can become powerful tools to modulate the intensity of emotions. The skills introduced also help people to reduce their vulnerability to emotional dysregulation by building up positive experiences and attending to health issues.
Interpersonal effectiveness is focused on developing skills to express feelings and needs, set limits, negotiate solutions and validate the feelings of others. This final module of the program is specifically aimed at improving relationships and respecting personal values and beliefs.
The program requires attendance of one day each week for 8 weeks and an ongoing commitment to individual therapy. An integral part of the program is a commitment to regular group attendance and practice of the skills introduced.