A Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Group in a Psychoanalytic Community Service: A Pilot Study

Katie Aafjes-van Doorn, CĂ©line Kamsteeg, Kathy Portier, Geetali Chitre
Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy 2020 January 1, 34 (1): 21-46
This exploratory study reports on the implementation and effectiveness of a 20-week Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills group provided to 8 outpatients (7 women, average age 33 years old) within a psychoanalytic community clinic. We report on the practical implementation of this DBT skills group, and describe how the theoretical/technical differences between DBT and psychoanalysis were negotiated by the two co-therapists. The effectiveness of the skills group was evaluated on standardized measures of borderline personality symptoms, depression, anxiety, interpersonal problems, quality of life, and mindfulness skills that patients completed before and after treatment. At post-treatment, patients evaluated the DBT skills group on a satisfaction questionnaire and therapists completed a countertransference measure. Pre-post outcome data indicated reduced symptom levels of anxiety, depression, and improved quality of life. Both therapists reported moderate therapist responses typically associated with borderline personality disorder psychopathology. Their therapist responses were not associated with symptom levels or change but were related to patient satisfaction. Accumulative pilot studies like these add to the practice-based evidence of DBT components offered within psychoanalytically-oriented community clinics. However, given the exploratory nature of this study, strong conclusions are precluded until further effectiveness research is conducted.

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