When it comes to almost everything related to mental health, there is a heavy cloud of myths, stereotypes, and stigma hanging over it. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) isn’t exempt. DBT, originally created to treat borderline personality disorder (BPD), has since been adopted to treat a whole range of mental disorders. DBT uses both one-to-one sessions between the patient and therapist as well as group sessions. Both aspects are equally important.
Many people can understand the value of one-to-one sessions with a therapist, but group therapy can be a frightening experience, especially if you’re unsure what to expect. DBT Group Therapy is vital to the process of working, and many patients benefit greatly from the group sessions. There is no need to be nervous before you start your DBT Group Therapy sessions.
It’s Not A Process Group
When people picture group therapy, they tend to imagine a group of people sitting in a circle each taking turns to share their stories/feelings/emotions and helping them process that.
DBT Group doesn’t spend time processing feelings between group members. Most processing in DBT happens one-on-one with a therapist. The purpose of group DBT is to learn new skills and work on utilizing tools you’ve been taught. Group time will give all the members a chance to learn and work on using the skills they’ve been taught before testing them in the real world.
It’s More Like A Class
This might be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the person. DBT Group sessions are closer to taking a course in social interactions than a therapy session. Each week the group learns a new skill. While there aren’t tests or grades, there is homework. The homework usually involves practicing out the skill of the week in your real life.
It Begins With Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a core and foundational skill in dialectical behavioral therapy. Every week, group sessions start out with mindfulness practice. The exercises usually vary each week, but they all focus on this concept. Some weeks might have you mindfully eating, or coloring, or even just sitting with your eyes closed. Don’t worry if you have no idea what mindfulness is. The group will teach you as you go.
It Takes Time
Here’s the part that might scare people away- DBT isn’t a quick fix. In fact, you can expect to spend around 6 months in DBT group sessions. It takes 24 weeks to complete DBT skills training. It takes time to learn a whole bunch of new skills. While this form of therapy is a commitment, many people end up repeating the group once their time is up because they find it so beneficial.
It’s Not Just For BPD
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy was originally created to treat Borderline Personality Disorder, but it has since been expanded to help with a whole range of mental disorders such as depression or anxiety. If you have trouble managing your emotions and behaviors, or find interpersonal relationships hard, regardless of what diagnosis if any you have, DBT can help you. Some therapists have a mixed group, meaning there are people of various diagnoses together, while others have groups made up of people with the same diagnosis. There are benefits to both and often it comes down to the patient’s and therapist’s preference.
Dialectical behavioral therapy has been highly effective for a lot of people. The group sessions are particularly important in treatment as they act more like a class, teaching and providing chances to practice the skills learned. There is no need to be worried about joining or fitting in as everyone is there for the same purpose- to make meaningful changes to their life. To learn more, be sure to contact us. We’d be more than happy to discuss if DBT is the right fit for you.
Since 2003, the Delray Center for Healing has provided exceptional psychiatric and therapeutic care for mental health, eating, and substance use disorders. To learn more about our philosophy and treatment approach, download our free e-book, “Psychiatry Redefined,” written by our founder and medical director, Raul J. Rodriguez, MD.