Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training
with Dr. Saby Ramirez
Dialectical Behavior Therapy or DBT is a mindfulness-based, cognitive behavioral treatment that in its comprehensive form includes individual therapy sessions, skills training in groups, strategic coaching calls to apply skills, and family or agency support when needed. It is recognized as the gold standard treatment for borderline personality disorder (BPD), but research has shown that DBT is also effective in treating many other disorders such as substance dependence, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), ADHD and eating disorders.
Researchers and therapists have found that skills training is a critical component of DBT, and is a primary aspect of how DBT works. DBT skills training by itself is often effective, even without the other elements of DBT. Dr. Ramirez has been delivering DBT skills training for 10 years, and it has been very rewarding to see how these skills have improved quality of life not only for many patients, but also for therapists.
Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, in person groups have been cancelled until further notice. Therefore, the DBT group skills training is being delivered via Zoom. Even after the pandemic, Zoom will continue to be used as an alternative to in-person groups.
What is the format and expectations for DBT Skills training?
There are 4 modules: Mindfulness, Distress Tolerance, Emotional Regulation and Interpersonal Effectiveness. New participants can start during the Mindfulness module.
Each class begins with a mindful awareness practice that is relevant to the learning in that module. , and mindfulness will be taught again between other modules. Each class is 2 hours long, with a 10 minute break. The entire DBT group skills course takes 6 months (24 weeks). Participants are encouraged to complete the course twice.
In class, we explore and reinforce each new skill with role play and discussion. Our focus is on learning, practicing and eventually bringing each skill into daily life. DBT classes are not therapy sessions, in which participants share personal issues privately with a counsellor. These are learning sessions, in which participants may share what they need to share in order to improve their understanding the DBT skills.
Participants are expected to make a conscious effort to practice every day the skills learned during the class every week.
Participants are expected to notify MDABC before a class session if they are unable to attend. Please be aware that if a participant misses 4 classes in a row, the participant will be removed from the DBT skills training course. This is necessary to increase commitment and to encourage ongoing learning. Of course, there are special circumstances in people’s lives that we can consider if necessary, and a person who has had to leave a course can join another course in the future.
How to Participate
To participate in the DBT group skill training, you will need a referral from your family doctor. With the referral, the DBT course is covered by MSP. Before being accepted into the course, there will be a psychiatric consultation with Dr. Ramirez to ensure that the course is suitable for you.
Click here to obtain the referral form.
Space is limited, and not all referrals can be accepted. There will be a waiting list, and people will be assessed for commitment and availability before being accepted.