Category: Treatment - DBT

Symposium

Change in DBT Skills as a Mechanism of Action in Group Therapy

Sunday, November 19
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Aqua Salon A & B, Level 3, Aqua Level

Keywords: DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) | Emotion Regulation | Transdiagnostic
Presentation Type: Symposium

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is one of the few effective treatments for suicidality, non-suicidal self-injury, and symptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD). While standard DBT is comprised of individual therapy, coaching calls, and DBT skills group, there is emerging evidence that DBT skills group is an effective clinical intervention as a stand-alone treatment, as well as a necessary component to DBT. DBT skills group contains four modules: interpersonal effectiveness, mindfulness, distress tolerance, and emotion regulation. Each module contains specific instruction in dozens of skills, all with the goal of changing the way a person feels, thinks, or behaves. Despite mounting evidence on the importance of skill usage and skills group in DBT, additional evidence is needed to ascertain how these skills are related to treatment outcome, not only in DBT, but in other therapies. In addition, other important correlates to treatment success, such as attrition, have not been examined in the context of DBT skills. The present study involved a weekly assessment of skill use utilizing various assessment instruments across the course of a 12-week randomized control trial examining the efficacy of DBT skills group versus positive psychotherapy (PPT) group in emotionally dysregulated college students. While participants in both the DBT and PPT group evidenced a large effect size change in self-reported BPD symptoms (Cohen’s d = 1.23 and 1.13, respectively), this change was related to change in distress tolerance (β = .62, p = .002), mindfulness (β = -.69, p < .001), and emotion regulation (β = .65, p = .001) for the DBT group, but only to changes in emotion regulation (β = .80, p = .002) in the PPT group. Finally, self-reported skill usage, including the number of times utilizing skills per week, significantly predicted dropout in the DBT group (B = -2.04, SE = .61, p = .001). These findings provide insight into potential mechanisms of BPD symptom reduction in group therapies.


 

Amanda Uliaszek

Assistant Professor
University of Toronto

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