DBT skills groups

What is a DBT Skills Group?

So you might be thinking about joining a DBT skills group. Or maybe you are supporting your child in participating in one. Joining a therapy group can bring with it a mix of emotions from anxiousness to curiosity to excitement. As you make this decision, there are many important questions that you might have.

What is the purpose of DBT skills group?

The purpose and intention of a DBT skills group is skills acquisition. So, DBT skills groups are not designed for processing feelings or recent events of group members. DBT skills group sometimes can feel like therapy class. This is a normal!

What will DBT skills Group be like?

DBT skills groups meet on weekly basis. They are between one and a half to two hours long. This may be slightly longer than other therapy groups. It is designed this way to provide ample time and space to ensure that DBT skills can be learned and practiced.

Group consists of mindfulness and homework review during the first hour and new skills teaching and practice during the second hour.

DBT groups open with a brief mindfulness activity to help ground and focus us in the moment. This is weekly practice of essential DBT mindfulness skills. During skills teaching and practice, the group leader will go over the designated skill for the day. With each skill, there will be group discussion of how the skills applies to group members’ lives. And then an activity to help develop a better understanding of the skills and practice it together.

You will quickly come to learn that DBT loves acronyms. See our article on DEARMAN for an example of a DBT skill.

What is the Commitment For DBT skills group?

With only so much time and many skills to learn, there is a lot of ground to cover. For our DBT skills groups at Montgomery County Counseling Center, we have designed our groups to cover one of each of the four DBT Modules over a six-week period. We ask you to commit to a full 6-week module at a time. But if you want to get ALL of the skills, you should plan to attend all 4 modules which will be a 27 week period.

Graphic showing the DBT Skills Group rotation: 6 weeks of mindfulness, 1 week off, 6 weeks of distress tolerance, 1 week off, 6 weeks of emotion regulation, 1 week off, 6 weeks of Interpersonal Effectiveness skills, 1 week off and then back to mindfulness.

What Are Each of the DBT Skills Module?


Skills that to help us slow down. They help us focus on the present moment in a calm manner. These mindfulness skills help us become aware of and identify what is going on around us and what we are feeling within ourselves.

Distress Tolerance

Skills that help us navigate emotional crises more effectively. They provide alternative strategies to acting on maladaptive behaviors. These are essential skills that help in navigating a crisis and being able to accept reality as it is. 

Emotion Regulation

Skills for developing a greater understanding of our emotions and the ability to change them. Skills for decreasing emotional intensity and skills that prevent unwanted emotions. Learning emotion regulation skills is a fundamental aspect of the CHANGE.

Interpersonal Effectiveness

Skills to help individuals in build healthier relationships through more effective communication, understanding one’s own needs, and repairing or ending relationships. By developing interpersonal effectiveness skills, you can feel more confident in getting what YOU need in your relationships.

How can I achieve my goals with DBT Skills Group?

I often think of DBT skills groups as learning life skills that will serve you forever. In addition to learning skills in those four modules, it may be important to discuss with your individual therapist what your goals are when joining DBT skills group. This can help set you up to get the most out of your experience and how you can effectively implement the skills in your life. While not required, doing skills group in conjunction with seeing an individual therapist will support you in accomplishing your desired goals. DBT skills group can be a very rewarding experience as you walk away with invaluable emotional and relationship skills.

These are a few of the many questions that may come up as you begin to explore the idea of a therapy group. At Montgomery County Counseling Center, we are excited to be starting DBT skills groups for a wide range of age groups. I hope this helps you understand what a that means and how it may be beneficial for you or a child to join one. I look forward to seeing you in our group!

For more information on our DBT Skills groups, check out the specifics HERE or contact us with questions or to get started!

About the Author

Photo of one of our DBT therapists, Adam Friedfertig

Adam Freidfertig, LGPC is a licensed graduate professional counselor at Montgomery County Counseling Center in Rockville, MD. He obtained his bachelors degree from University of Delaware and his master’s degree in clinical Mental Health Counseling at Johns Hopkins University.

Adam has extensive training in DBT and in IFS (Internal Family System). He has worked in wilderness therapy settings, intensive outpatient settings, and now private practice settings. He specializes in work with teens and young adults. Adam see telehealth clients in Maryland.

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