How does dBt work?

DBT separates skills training from individual psychotherapy, requiring participants to attend a weekly skills training group in addition to being in ongoing weekly individual psychotherapy. As a unique and powerful way to further reinforce the skills taught in the skills training groups, telephone coaching is available between sessions to help generalize the use of skills. One of the key assumptions of DBT is that while we may not have caused all of our problems, we are the only ones capable and responsible for fixing them. This requires a continual willingness on the part of any DBT client to put in the hard work necessary for making the desired changes in order to create a life worth living.

At SFDBT we offer two separate programs: a Comprehensive DBT Program and a Skills Training Program. In our Comprehensive DBT Program clients are in weekly individual therapy with one of our SFDBT-affiliated therapists and in one of our weekly skills training groups. In addition, our SFDBT-affiliated therapists provide skills phone coaching and participate in our weekly consultation team meeting. In our Skills Training Program clients are in weekly individual therapy with a non-affiliated therapist of the client’s choosing while attending one of our weekly skills training groups. Both of these programs are offered to adults and young adults only, we do not currently offer any skills training groups for adolescents or children.


dbt skills training

Our DBT skills training group is a seven-month long group where participants are expected to attend once weekly. The group is comprised of four skill sets (Core Mindfulness, Distress Tolerance, Emotion Regulation, and Interpersonal Effectiveness).

  • Core Mindfulness Skills: Skills to increase being present and non-judgmentally aware in the moment 

  • Distress Tolerance Skills: Skills to manage difficult feelings without acting impulsively

  • Emotion Regulation Skills: Skills to prevent or decrease emotions or the intensity of emotions

  • Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills: Skills to manage effective communication with others

The Core Mindfulness skills are woven throughout each of the other three sections and is always the first skill set taught.  For example, in a two-month long section, we present two weeks of Core Mindfulness skills followed by 6-7 weeks (depending on the day of the group and the month) of the Distress Tolerance skills:

  • Two Month Section: 
    2 weeks of Core Mindfulness skills
    6-7 weeks of Distress Tolerance skills 

  • Two Month Section: 
    2 weeks of Core Mindfulness skills
    6-7 weeks of Interpersonal Effectiveness skills

  • Three Month Section:
    2 weeks of Core Mindfulness skills
    10-11 weeks of Emotion Regulation skills