How should you master a new skill? Should you take short online courses, listen to a few You Tube videos, catch a lunchtime podcast or read a book on the subject? Those methods, while convenient and quick, can lead to not only fundamental misunderstandings of the material but also to only a partial implementation. Intellectual understanding cannot substitute for the solid integration and utilization of skills that can only be found in working directly with a dedicated team of DBT professions. Solely focusing on theory or a quick explanation deprives you of the practical advice on what the skill really is and what the challenges are in using and sustaining that skill. Our DBT skills group provides those opportunities and much more.
The DBT Skills Group teaches you the skills (in all their complexity), the neuroscience behind the skills, and the psychological science that makes the skills relevant for your life. By understanding the skill’s practical benefit, the science behind that benefit, and the pitfalls and nuances of application, you are much more likely to actually practice the skill and have it available when the emotionally challenging moments unexpectedly appear.
After the group session, your individual therapist receives in-depth notes on the content and discussion in the group session. Your individual therapist is able to explain more about everyday application and hands-on practice of those skills and strategies as they apply to your life. The DBT skills are then customized to fit your life situation. Individual and group sessions work together synergistically to truly become more than the sum of their parts. Your team of DBT therapists all work together to supercharge your results and to help you build that life worth living!
One of the central goals of DBT is help you learn how to process your emotions differently. To accomplish this, our DBT strategies assist your brain in rewiring the neurological pathways to reduce emotional reactivity. We know that when we perform an activity over and over again, the brain will change. This is the working definition of neuroplascticity. So those areas of your brain that control wisdom, self control and executive control tend to become more active when we practice skills repetitively. For example, the prefrontal cortex (seat of executive function) becomes more dominant when we use mindfulness frequently. We leverage the neuroplasticity of the brain and the brain will reorganize itself to our direction and experience.
Remember that fundamentally retraining your mind to emotionally regulate is an ambitious undertaking. The process will not be easy or quick, but it is the only way to really achieve long lasting results. The weekly two-step system (DBT individual therapy and DBT skills group) allows you to have a dedicated time and place to learn new skills with an experienced DBT psychologist and then an individual session to practice and master those skills in the real world with coaching from your highly trained DBT individual therapist. The two weekly meetings form a sort of “checks and balances” system that insure that you are learning the skills correctly, implementing the therapy system properly and making the appropriate gains in your treatment. Instead of working with a single clinician who may or may not know what they’re doing, you will work with a team of highly experienced, licensed DBT clinicians at Gearing Up who have all extensively studied the concepts you are learning.
DBT Skills Group is required for all clients in the DBT program at Gearing Up. Due to the specific roles both group and individual therapy play, they cannot be separated or presented independently of each other. Our DBT team is committed to the concept that DBT is only legitimately conducted when group and individual therapies are in place with a DBT team overseeing the program. We have discovered that even multiple individual sessions every week to cover the complex material are less impactful than the traditional weekly DBT individual and the weekly DBT skills group model. Learning concepts in group allows you to engage, discuss, question, and learn from others in the group session, which is invaluable experience. The DBT treatment team is also able to follow your progress through this process.
In addition, Dr. Sylvia Gearing presents all of the group sessions so you are learning directly from the executive director, co-owner of Gearing Up and a senior psychologist. She personally designed and wrote the curriculum after years of research and study. She has augmented the original DBT curriculum with new invaluable skills, the latest psychological research, the science behind the skills, over a thousand hours of teaching DBT skills groups and her thirty years of clinical experience.
Gearing Up’s DBT Skills Group is unlike any other in the country. In addition to years of DBT study, clinical practice, and training with Dr. Linehan’s Behavior Tech organization, Dr. Sylvia Gearing has synthesized decades of research, study, and clinical treatment into a truly revolutionary course for Gearing Up’s clientele. Our version of DBT Skills Group augments the basic DBT curriculum with new research and insights from neuroscience, trauma treatment, mood disorder research, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment therapy, positive psychology, advanced mindfulness concepts, and much more. Entire sections have been reworked and rewritten to better explain how desired changes in emotion regulation happen, what new cutting-edge research offers about topics such a neuroplasticity, attachment, self regulation and trauma, and what neuroscience has to reveal about how to make lasting changes in the brain. Dr. Gearing offers this one of a kind experience in her skills group.
DBT Skills Group is an intensive therapy course that meets once per week for 45 minutes to an hour. Each session presents new material from Dialectical Behavior Therapy and other therapy systems and research. The material is only presented once over the course of the curriculum so every group session is important to your progress. The DBT skills build on one another incrementally and all teachings are vital to your success.
After the presentation portion, Dr. Gearing will take questions, lead the group in in-depth discussions of the concepts, and provide coaching in the skills application to real-life problems. In addition, she will assign handouts and worksheets for practice at home and with the individual therapist.
Most clients can complete the entire curriculum in about one year, but sometimes it can take longer or require more in-depth processing and study. Every group and client goes at their own pace, and we are patient and dedicated to that process. Gearing Up’s mission is to make sure every client is mastering the material and achieving their individual therapy goals.
DBT Skills Group has a unique function in Gearing Up’s therapy offerings. Since it is one half of the Dialectical Behavior Therapy system, it relies upon the individual therapy to be truly effective. However, the skills group super charges your therapy results and delivers an entire therapy system in about one year that may take many years to master with a different approach. Clients are able to ask questions, discuss concepts, request guidance, and further explore the DBT system in-group with multiple clinicians and peers to provide insight and advice. However, personal examples and instruction with more sensitive topics or situations can be safely and comfortably discussed in individual sessions. The treatment community works together to help each client meet their goals and to assist them in building the life that they deserve.