May 14, 2024

Should I Try DBT Skills Group?

Author: Catherine Herling

As a Certified DBT Therapist, I am often asked whether I recommend attending a DBT Skills training. The short answer is yes!

But, there will be other questions: Why should I join one? What should I look out for? What if I don’t find the right group for me? To everyone reading this with the same worries, I want to dish out details on DBT groups so you feel confident in deciding!

If you read the introduction to the DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets Second Edition, you will see that the main goal of DBT skills training is ”to help you increase your resilience and build a life experienced as worth living” (Linehan 2015).

Building a life worth living by yourself can feel impossible, but going through this experience with other people who feel the same way as you can be a game changer. The simple act of hearing another person saying “me too, this is tough” can change your perspective on the entire DBT skills training process. Everyone in skills groups is learning something new and trying to change their lives. But, it feels different when you can hear their worries and talk about yours.

Unlike other types of group therapy, skills training helps you learn ways to improve and doesn’t focus on your problems. Skills groups also provide guidance on how to learn and use these skills in your day-to-day life. If this sounds helpful for your personal goals, then you should join a DBT skills group! 

So, you have now decided that you want to join a skills group, that’s great!

The next question to ask is: what should I look for in a skills group? 

As with everything, a DBT Skills Group is not a “one size fits all” situation, so you should ask yourself and the potential skills group the following questions:

  1. How long will the group last? Most groups need a 6-12 months commitment, know this ahead of time and decide if you can do that (with both your budget and time).
  2. How often will the group meet? Most will meet weekly, but some may meet twice a week or take time off for holidays. Groups will have absence policies that can include absence fees or only being able to miss a certain number of meetings.
  3. Will it be in-person or virtual? Ever since the Spring of 2020, mental health services have become more accessible via video call. While virtual groups are helpful for people who struggle to get to an office, it also means that there’s no guarantee that a practice offers both in-person and remote options. In-person and virtual have their groups have advantages, and you should ask yourself which would be a better fit for you before committing.
  4. Do you only offer a general skills group or do you also have skills groups for specific populations? While a general skills group can help you, it can also be helpful to take part in a group that has a similar background or same diagnosis as you. Both groups are good options, but it’s important to decide if you prefer a specialty group before you start.
  5. Will my insurance cover this? Some practices are in-network for your insurance plan while others may be completely out of network but can provide a receipt of service to submit to your insurance company. 

After asking these questions, you can feel confident in making a decision on your skills group!

Keep in Mind: 

In the beginning, you may feel uncomfortable talking about your problems with strangers, this is normal. The most important thing is that you continue to show up and practice what you learn. If you attended a few group meetings and it doesn’t feel like a good fit, talk to the facilitators, they want to help you! Facilitators can often normalize your worries and help find solutions to your problems. If it STILL doesn’t feel like a good fit, it’s okay to tell the facilitators that you need to continue looking for a group. This does not mean that DBT won’t work for you, it means that you need to find a better fit! Like individual therapy, it may take a couple of tries to find a group of people who you connect with.

After reading this post, I hope you feel more confident and capable during your therapeutic journey!

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