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Skills-Based Groups

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DBT Skills Group

The DBT Coping Skills Group is for students who struggle to control their emotions or behavior. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a well-established treatment model in which members learn specific skills for reducing their suffering and regaining control of their lives. These skills address the following: 

  • Mindfulness for experiencing and accepting life as it is
  • Distress tolerance for surviving pain and crisis without making things worse
  • Emotional regulation for reducing vulnerability, reactivity, and suffering
  • Interpersonal effectiveness for getting needs met, saying no and managing conflict

The group is structured a class or workshop.  Group time will be focused on teaching and practicing skills rather than on open discussion. Members problems will be seen as opportunities for learning and practicing skills.

Members must commit to (1) being in individual therapy for the semester, (2) attending every group session, and (3) completing homework practices each week. Members must also agree to follow a set of group guidelines (e.g., to maintain the confidentiality of the group). 

The group will begin a few weeks after the start of the semester and end when classes end. The group will meet weekly for 1 hour and 20 minutes in University Counseling Services (Gasson 001).

Please contact the group facilitator, Sandro Piselli, Ph.D., for more information: 617-552-3310   




Questions and Myths about Group Therapy



Official DBT Website

DBT Self Help:  A non-professional website that provides lots of useful information.

UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center: free guided meditations


DBT Self-Help

DBT Diary Card and Skills Coach

DBT Skills Card

The Mindfulness App




The following videos explain some of the material covered in the DBT Skills Group. Please note that some of the videos have been created by mental health professionals (e.g., the ones featuring Dr. Marsha Linehan, the creator of DBT), while others were created by people who have been in DBT programs and want to share their non-professional knowledge. 

Mindfulness: States of Mind

  • Wise Mind: access intuition about what is needed by balancing your emotion and reason.

Mindfulness: "What" Skills

  • Observe: just notice experiences in the present moment without labeling them.
  • Describe: just name the things you observe without judgment or interpretation. 
  • Participate: throw yourself into the present moment completely and mindfully.

Mindfulness: "How" Skills

  • Non-judgment:  notice and let-go of evaluations (i.e., "good," "bad," or "should").
  • One-mindfulness: focus your full attention on just one thing or task in the present moment. 
  • Effectiveness: focus on what works or what is needed to achieve your goals. 

Mindfulness: Other Approaches to Mindfulness

  • Loving Kindness: increase feelings of love and compassion for yourself and others. 

Emotion Regulation: Understanding Emotions

Emotion Regulation: Changing Emotions

  • Check the Facts: observe whether your emotions fit the facts or your interpretations. 
  • Opposite Action: decrease an unjustified or ineffective emotion by acting opposite to an urge. 
  • Problem Solving: change a justified emotion by identifying and resolving its cause.

Emotion Regulation: Reducing Vulnerability

  • Accumulate Positives: guard against pain by increasing pleasant experiences. 
  • Build Mastery: guard against helplessness by doing things that make you feel competent.
  • Cope Ahead: prepare yourself by imagining difficult moments and rehearsing effective coping. 
  • PLEASE: increase resiliency by taking care of your physical needs. 
  • Let Go of Emotional Suffering: practice mindfulness and acceptance of painful emotions.

Distress Tolerance: Crisis Survival Skills

Distress Tolerance: Reality Acceptance

  • Radical Acceptance: open yourself fully to experiencing the facts of reality as they are. 
  • Turn the Mind: consciously re-commit to accepting reality over-and-over again. 
  • Willingness: actively prepare to participate in life, letting go of willfulness.
Interpersonal Effectiveness: Clarifying Goals
Interpersonal Effectiveness: Objectives Effectiveness
  • DEAR MAN: prioritize getting what you want by asking for it clearly and effectively.
  • Example DEAR MAN
  • GIVE: prioritize your relationship by being Gentle, Interested, Validating, and Easy.
  • FAST: prioritize your self-respect by being Fair, un-Apologetic, Stuck to values, and Truthful. 
  • Discussion of Boundaries
Interpersonal Effectiveness: Building Relationships
  • Find Relationships: actively look for connections, make conversation, and join-in. 
  • End Relationships: recognize destructive relationships and end them skillfully.
Other Useful Videos