WHAT IS IT?: An alternative to therapist-facilitated DBT group therapy (though not a replacement) with a focus on non-hierarchical peer support
WHERE & WHEN? Currently meeting once a week at Harold Washington Library. The floor and meeting room currently changes weekly, but will be stabilized by March.
WHAT DO I NEED?: The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook by McKay, Wood, & Brantley ( ISBN-10: 1572245131 ). It is available for $14 on Amazon and is used in professional settings.
Our supplemental text is the DBT® Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets by Marsha M. Linehan ( ISBN-10: 1572307811 ). This book is useful, but not required. I will be providing selected handouts and worksheets for those who do not purchase the full book.
Contact group admin for PDF of either text -- printing is highly recommended, as both are workbooks.
1. No hate speech, no comments meant to belittle, hurt, or agitate for ANY reason, but especially on basis of: race, ethnicity, religion, LGBTQ+ status, disability, appearance. Violation may result in being asked to leave depending on severity.
2. NO means NO. If person says no to answering a question, physical contact (including hugs or comforting), request for phone number, etc, no is the final answer. Asking again or guilt tripping may result in being asked to leave depending on severity. As a general rule, avoid all physical contact – there is no real reason for it.
3. Any sexual misconduct (including sexually suggestive language) is immediate grounds for removal from group.
4. No glorification or detailed descriptions of self-harming behavior or otherwise triggering material (assault, etc). No trading “war stories.” No one-upping.
5. Any inciting sentiments toward self-destructive behavior or behavior that may harm others is immediate grounds for removal from group.
6. Respect confidentiality of what is shared in group.
7. Be mindful of how long you talk and make sure it stays on topic. Everyone gets a chance to share in every discussion. Please consciously make space for others to do so. We will time specific topics, and anyone disrupting the time of others may respectfully asked to conclude. DO NOT interrupt others, even if it’s to agree or say you have experienced the same thing.
8. No cell phone use while group is in session, other than breaks or downtime after activities. If there is an emergency situation, please step out of the room.
9. Be honest on your homework and diary cards. You are not obligated to share anything that makes you uncomfortable, but DBT will not work if you are not being honest with yourself.
10. NO MEDICAL ADVICE. Discussion of treatment options is okay, but EVERYTHING should be run by your own treatment team. Please keep in mind that other members may have comorbid eating disorders, substance abuse problems, or be on medications that may make even dietary changes or the addition of supplements potentially dangerous.
11. Everyone is welcome to share coping mechanisms, handouts from their own therapy, or self-help work they’ve found useful. These should be brought up in the preceding meeting or posted on the group forum to gauge interest.
12. While there is a group textbook and curriculum based around the text, any good-standing member can facilitate a discussion or “lead” a group. Contact me for more info.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is the main form of treatment for those with borderline personality disorder. Designed by Marsha Linehan, a BPD sufferer herself, it consists of 4 modules -- emotion regulation, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and mindfulness. These modules do not function as talk therapy, but instead provide a guideline for analyzing and modifying behaviors and interactions. A typical week's worth of therapy includes keeping a diary card of problem behaviors and skills used to combat them, filling out a couple introspective worksheets, and attending a therapist-facilitated group to discuss progress, setbacks, and learn new skills.
Why self-help? For some, seeing a therapist trained in DBT and attending groups is impossible -- perhaps it's cost, a waiting list, schedule, or something else. For others, finding the right therapist can feel futile, especially if they've had negative experiences. For many, the entire DBT experience is being handed photocopied worksheets, having them explained, and a 5-minute skill session. This group is not therapy and is not intended to replace therapy. However, for those familiar with the DBT process, it is apparent that it can be done alone. But it's easier with accountability, and far easier when there are understanding ears to provide insight and share in our struggles.
This group is intended for adults diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, or those who experience enough of the symptoms for DBT to be useful. While this group does provide support, keep in mind that it is not the place to process trauma -- we do not have a trained clinician available, and need to remain mindful of being in a library.