DBT Skills Treatment Groups


Group settings provide clients with an added level of interpersonal support, allowing individuals to create new connections, practice interpersonal skills and develop comfort in a social context. Group leaders provide a powerful environment of compassion and empathy for each individual. This also allows for interactions that challenge participants to let go of self-defeating beliefs and behaviours, replacing negative emotions with more positive ones, and ultimately achieving personal life goals.

Clients considering participation in the DBT skills treatment group are asked to attend several individual sessions prior to joining the group in order to orient them to the treatment and ensure informed consent. The DBT Skills Treatment Group is not for everyone, as participation requires a certain level of commitment. First and foremost, participants must be committed to working on personal goals, and willing to discuss their efforts, successes, and failures in a group setting.

How is the group structured?

Sessions are held weekly. Each session is 2-hours. Sessions may be cancelled during holidays/vacation time etc., when agreed upon ahead of time. The group is structured into 4 modules: Mindfulness, Emotion Regulation, Interpersonal Effectiveness and Distress Tolerance. The completion of Module 4 is followed by returning to Module 1, and runs continuously. The group is an ‘open group’, which means that once a PEACE client is individually oriented and committed, the person may join the group at the beginning of the upcoming module (i.e. they do not need to start at “Module 1”).

Each module takes roughly 4-6 sessions to get through. Facilitators commit to getting through the material in a total of 20 weeks, allowing clients to plan accordingly. Clients are encouraged to participate in the group until they have developed a good grasp of the skills and have integrated them into their lives. Research suggests that attending each module at least twice allows for the best results. This structure also creates a group that includes members that are both new and more experienced with the material.

How many people are  in a group?

Groups typically consist of 8-10 clients and two facilitators.

How is each session structured?

The first hour of the group is spent checking in with clients about how the homework went and reviewing last week’s material. The second half of the group focuses on teaching new material and assigning homework. Facilitators utilize the clinical approach of experiential learning by utilizing ‘what’s in the room in the moment’ as opportunities for replacing maladaptive behaviour with more skillful behaviour. This is carefully balanced with getting through the content of each module.

What groups are currently running?

Currently we’re running an Adult’s Group, a Women’s Group and a Youth Group.  The groups run on an ongoing basis, with new members able to join at the beginning of each module.

How do I join a PEACE DBT Skills Treatment Group?

An initial individual session is set up to learn about the client’s goals and to orient the client to DBT and the group format. Sometimes several individual sessions are required before the client is ready to join. Once oriented and committed to attending all four modules (i.e. 20 sessions), the client can join the group at the beginning of the upcoming module (i.e. they do not need to start at “Module 1”). Each module takes between 4-6 weeks.

Do I need additional therapy while I’m in the group?

PEACE understands that clients’ therapy needs are diverse, so we create an individualized treatment plan based on those needs. There is not one fixed model or approach. PEACE does require that clients have access to individual therapy at the minimum, on an as-needed basis. For example, if a client needs to process something individually that came up in group. Or, if the group facilitators deem a client’s behaviour was disruptive (as per the ‘Disruptive Behaviour Agreement’*)  during a group session, they will need an individual session(s) with a PEACE Therapist for supportive processing, recommitting, and preparing to return and repair with the group.

Here are common therapy options that clients utilize while in group:

  • Clients do weekly individual and/or family therapy sessions while attending the group.
  • Clients book individual and/or family therapy sessions on an as-needed basis.
  • Clients work with a therapist who is not affiliated with PEACE while attending the group. The client consents for the therapist and PEACE group facilitator to be in touch as needed at the clients’ expense.

*What is the ‘Disruptive Behaviour Agreement’?

DBT believes that it is essential to focus therapeutic interventions on replacing unskillful behaviours with more skillful ones in order to achieve our goals and make the most out of our lives. In order to do this, it is essential to tolerate the negative emotions that drive the problem behaviours, rather than act in an unskillful manner in order to avoid experiencing them. All group members are encouraged to participate to a level with which they are comfortable, and to be willing to stretch their limits in order to create real change in their lives, while also setting limits effectively before acting unskillfully.

When group members exhibit behaviours that are disruptive to the therapeutic process of the group, the therapist and/or group members will respectfully observe and describe these behaviours, and they will have an opportunity to correct the behaviours and practice skills. Your therapist will make every effort to support you to remain in the group, but if the interfering behaviours continue, you will be asked to leave for the remainder of the session. You will be expected to attend a minimum of one individual session to explore solutions in order to return to the group. If you are asked to leave a second time, you may be suspended pending a team meeting. The team meeting may involve further problem solving or a decision to discharge you with referrals.

How does registration and payment work?

PEACE requires clients to register for group sessions in advance of attendance. Registration is complete upon payment.  Once clients have attended all four modules, they may choose to continue registering for modules one at a time. Clients are encouraged to stay in the group until they have mastered the skills.

Payment options available:

  • $2000 one time charge
    • Payment includes registration for a total of 20 two-hour group sessions covering all 4 modules.
  • Four payments of $500
    • Payment includes registration for a set of 5 two-hour group sessions covering approximately 1 module
    • Payment must be made before the start of each set of 5 group sessions in order to be registered.

Please Note: Clients are not refunded for missed sessions except for exceptional circumstances that must be discussed and agreed upon with the facilitator or individual therapist (i.e. vacation planned in advance, physical illness).

What if I need itemized receipts for my insurance?

PEACE Psychotherapy provides itemized receipts for each session.