Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive behavioural therapy that aims to assist people to live in the moment, regulate emotions, cope with stress and have healthier relationships with others.
DBT workshops are led by a DBT trained clinical psychologist and run in a seminar-like way weekly for eight-week blocks during the school term. The sessions are each an hour and a half in length and cover DBT skills across three separate modules:
Each of the above modules incorporate a mindfulness course during the first two workshops and then at the start of the workshop each week thereafter.
The following modules are delivered in a support oriented and collaborative setting that will assist in identifying thoughts, beliefs and assumptions that make life more challenging.
Mindfulness skills are considered a foundation of DBT learning and we cover this knowledge in every group workshop module. The mindfulness portion of the course is aimed at increasing our awareness, focus and acceptance of the present moment. We practice learning how to attend to the range of details (e.g. our sensations, thoughts, emotions, urges) across a range of situations and therefore to make wise choices, rather than ones that are either driven by, or deny, emotions.
Emotion regulation is about learning how to identify emotions, in particular being able to observe emotions before they escalate so that we can respond effectively. These skills help us to increase our understanding of the function of emotions and the factors that increase vulnerability to emotions, build our capacity to tolerate unpleasant emotions, and guide us to identify ways to generate pleasant emotions. Overall, this module increases awareness of our emotions and how to respond to them effectively to reduce our suffering and increase our wellbeing.
This module focuses on developing skills to cope in a crisis, to tolerate painful, unpleasant and uncomfortable emotions, and manage urges to engage in harmful behaviours. This module teaches the skills for increasing our options to effectively manage and/or accept the difficult situations which life presents to us.
Being effective in relationships means being able to maximise your chances of getting your needs met in a way that maintains relationships and self-respect. An important step in this is learning to identify priorities in interpersonal interactions and to identify and manage the barriers to interpersonal effectiveness. This module provides participants with skills to help develop and maintain relationships, balance priorities with demands, balance wants (things that we want to do) with shoulds (things that we think we should do) in life, and build a sense of mastery and self-respect in interpersonal interactions.
There are usually eight to ten group members on each course, participants vary in terms of age, gender and background. Each group workshop session teaches a new skill, or set of skills, which we are then asked to practice during the week. We begin each week with a brief mindfulness exercise followed by inviting feedback on the prior week of skills practice. To ensure that the skills are being applied and generalised, each member of the group is required to attend individual sessions on a weekly or fortnightly basis for the duration of the group. It is anticipated that the individual sessions will be within a DBT frame and cover the following: diary cards, chain analyses, revision of any skills that have been learnt, and behavioural and cognitive strategies to reinforce learning.
If you are not currently under the treatment of a DBT trained psychologist or psychiatrist we ask that you call usor fill in an expression of interest at the form below so that we can ask for some history and conduct a brief triage, allowing us to allocate you to an appropriate clinician. A DBT trained clinical psychologist will conduct the assessment with you and discuss the options for treatments, including attending the workshops if appropriate.
How the sessions are structured?
Typical DBT is designed to have group and individual sessions running in parallel. The weekly group workshop sessions teach specific skills across the core learning modules. The individual therapy sessions focus on issues that have come up during the week that require immediate individual attention and ways to increase effective skills practice.
There is a strong focus on practising new behaviours and skills while engaging in DBT treatment as a way to gain relief and experience positive change.
Getting the most from each session
Complete the diary card on a daily basis, if possible. You might be interested to know that diary cards have been shown to improve the effectiveness of the program more than any other component.
Come to the group on time and set yourself a weekly reminder that the group is on so that you remember to attend.
Use the mindfulness skill of “participate” to stay present in the room and engaged with the material.
Use skills to ground or centre yourself if you become distracted, agitated or dysregulated.
Practice a non-judgmental stance towards other group participants, yourself and the group facilitator.
Adopt an open and curious mindset to the material. It is normal to experience some resistance to learning new material when you first encounter something, so give yourself some time and the opportunity to practice the skills.
Be clear about what your goals are, and check-in with yourself every now and then to ensure that you are working towards them throughout the group.
Ask questions, especially if you are unsure about any of the material.
Practice the skills you learn between groups and if you foresee difficulties with this, discuss it with your individual therapist.
Clinician / Referral Information:
We welcome referrals from external clinicians in a couple of ways. If you are a DBT clinician and will be working with your client in a DBT frame, meeting weekly or fortnightly, checking their diary cards each session and reinforcing the skills discussed in the workshop, then we are happy to complete a one hour assessment prior to the group and have them attend the workshop, alongside your individual work with them.
If you are wishing to refer a client into the program and will not be working within a DBT frame with them, we will assess them for the workshop and the assessing psychologist will arrange weekly or fortnightly individual sessions for the duration of the workshop. Research suggests that it is not beneficial for clients to receive DBT and another therapy at the same time. With this in mind, we recommend that the client only attends their DBT psychologist during the workshops, rather than continuing with external individual therapy from a different therapeutic framework. At the conclusion of the group, in consultation with you and your client, you can decide whether to have the client recommence therapy with you or to continue with the psychologist within this service.
Given the importance of the therapeutic relationship in our work with clients who benefit from DBT, we are very supportive of clients maintaining their ongoing relationship with the referring clinician, particularly when there has been a long-term history with that clinician. We aim to support the work that you are doing with your client and to practice in a way that has been shown to assist clients to be most effective in their uptake and application of the DBT skills.