Group-based DBT skills training modules are linked to independent and additive improvements in emotion regulation in a heterogeneous outpatient sample

Nicole Heath, James I Gerhart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objective: Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) was initially developed to treat symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), but has also been shown to improve symptoms of several other mental health conditions. Emotion regulation difficulties comprise a key target of DBT as well as a common challenge for individuals with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other conditions. The current study investigated the impact of a DBT skills-training group on emotion regulation, and whether improvement in specific facets of emotion regulation would be linked to training in specific modules. Method: One hundred and thirty-six patients diagnosed with heterogeneous mental health conditions participated in the study. Patients were enrolled in the group on a rolling basis, and emotion regulation was assessed at the beginning and end of every six- to eight-week module. Results: Mixed model analysis revealed that each DBT skills-training module (i.e., mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and emotion regulation) was associated with improvements in emotion regulation (all Bonferroni corrected ps <.003). Conclusions: These findings add to the growing literature on the applicability of DBT skills-training to heterogeneous psychological conditions, particularly when patients’ challenges reflect underlying difficulties with emotion regulation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychotherapy Research
StatePublished - 2021

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