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.
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.