Advanced Skills: An Evaluation of a DBT Skills Only Group

Evaluate the session

Presenting Author(s): Dr. Kate Hibbard

Date and time: 21 Mar 2020 from 15:00 to 15:30

Location: Hawthorn B  Floor Map

Learning Objectives:

  1. Present findings from a quality improvement project looking at pre-post scores for our DBT skills only group;
  2. Review literature on DBT skills only groups;
  3. Review content and structure of the skills group at the Royal Alexandra Hospital.


Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based treatment for self-harming and suicidal behaviours in Borderline Personality Disorder (Linehan, 1993). DBT teaches skills that increase an individual’s ability to tolerate aversive emotional states and increase the ability to resist urges to engage in behaviours that provide short-term relief but long-term suffering. DBT can be offered in a comprehensive program that includes both skills training and individual therapy but it can also be offered as DBT Skills Training Only (Linehan 2015). DBT Skills Training Only has been found to be helpful for diagnoses other than BPD, including Major Depressive Disorder, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, and problem drinking (Linehan, 2015).

The Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton, AB offers both a comprehensive DBT program as well as a Skills only group (Advanced Skills). The Advanced Skills program is a transdiagnostic group program offered in 8-week DBT modules. Groups have 10-12 members and 2 facilitators. The group runs for an hour and a half once a week. As part of a program evaluation in 2018 and 2019, we collected pre- and post- scores on the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS) (Gratz, 2004). Results of this analysis as well as recommendations for running similar groups will presented in this workshop.

Literature References:

  1. Gratz, K.L. (2004). Multidimensional assessment of emotion regulation and dysregulation: development, factor structure, and initial validation of the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioural Assessment, 26, 41-54.
  2. Linehan, M.M. (1993). Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder.
  3. Linehan, M.M. (2015). DBT Skills Training Manual.
  4. McMain, S.F., Guimond, T., Barnhart, R., Habinski, L. & Streiner, D.L. (2017). A randomized trial of brief dialectical behaviour therapy skills training in suicidal patients suffering from borderline disorder. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 135, 138-148.
  5. Neacsiu, A.D., Eberle, J.W., Kramer, R., Wiesmann, T., & Linehan, M.M. (2014). Dialectical behaviour therapy skills for trans diagnostic emotion dysregulation: A pilot randomized controlled trial. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 59, 40-51.

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