Syllabus and Course Contract for
PSY 480.31: Practicum for Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training
Section 01:Th 6:00–8:50
This course is intended for graduate students in the clinical-counseling psychology program and is designed to meet the following program objectives:
- Gain knowledge and experience with a Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Group.
- Gain a conceptual understanding of Dialectical Behavior Therapy
The purpose of the DBT Skills Group is to teach a set of coping responses
we believe will be useful to participants in many areas of their lives.
The group will combine brief lectures and discussions of key ideas from the
DBT literature with exercises to illustrate the points discussed and begin
turning these ideas into natural responses we make in our day-to-day life.
There will be “homework” for clients and like many aspects of our lives–
you will probably find the more you enter into activities, the more you will gain.
Starting the third week, we will have 90 minute group skills training sessions with
adult clients. In colaboration with 2nd-year supervisions, 1st-year clinicians
help prepare for these sessions. Each 1st-year clinician will co-lead at least 2
group sessions and act as back-up leaders for at least 2 sessions. Other roles include
record keeper, contact person, and gopher).
Weekly Planning Meetings
Leaders and back-up leaders (along with their supervisors)
attend weekly planning meetings, lasting about 2 hours (time to be determined). This means
that each 1st-year clinician will help plan for 4 our of the 12 sessions.
Each week 1st-year clinicians will meet with their 2nd-year supervisors at a mutually convenient time and place to meet for 1 hour.
In supervision, mindfulness journals and readings will be discussed. Skills will be practiced and, when appropriate, upcoming sessions will be planned.
Linehan, M. M. (1993). Cognitive-behavioral treatment of borderline personality disorder. New York: Guilford Press.
Linehan, M. M. (2015). DBT skills training manual (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.
Linehan, M. M. (2015). DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.
Your grade will be based on the following class components:
- Attendance (Group Meetings, Planning Meetings, and Supervision)
- Participation (Group Meetings, Planning Meetings, and Supervision)
- Keeping weekly mindfulness journal
- Appropriate implementation of the DBT skills trainer strategies
If you need a special accommodation to fully participate in this
class, please contact Disability Concerns at 438-5853 (voice),
Plagiarizing and cheating on exams and other assignments are not
tolerated. Any student exhibiting academic dishonesty will receive
an F in the course and will be referred for disciplinary action.
Disciplinary action may include expulsion from the university.
Additionally, as an employee of Illinois State University, some of your
work will involve access to information/records that are confidential. It is
your responsibility to respect the confidentiality of student, patient,
and department records; to follow office procedures in order to protect
client privacy; and to act in a professional manner, both to the public and over the phone.
The best way to reach me is by email or in person, before or
after class. I do not check my office telephone messages nearly as
often as I check my email. I may, from time to time, email you
about various matters.
DBT Skills Group Roles
Group Leaders (2 people)
- Participate in weekly planning sessions
- Mindfulness exercise at the beginning of each session
- Mindfulness of the present moment throughout the session
- Makes handouts necessary for the week’s module
- Behavior analysis of homework review
- Timing of the session
- Moving from client to client
- Balancing tension between other group leaders and participants
- Keeping focus on both the group as a whole and each individual
- Offering alternative explanations to what the other leader teaches
Back-up Leaders(2 people)
- Participate in weekly planning sessions
- Be prepared to lead group for that week if one leader is unable to do so
- Participate in group at the table
Record Keeper (1 person)
- Takes attendance
- Documents any important themes, existence of mindfulness, lack of mindfulness during session, and generally what is going on
- Fills out the Participation Log for each member
Contact Person (1 person)
- Contacts absentees 15 minutes after the session begins
- Continues to attempt to contact members that did not show up at the meeting for the subsequent week
- Document any contact or messages left for absentee
Gopher (1 person)
- Ensured tables are set up properly
- Gets water for members
- Makes sure the sound screens are turned on
- Makes sure external noise is limited (i.e., loud conversation in the other room)
- Gets members at the beginning of group
- Passes out parking passes for the next meeting
- Contacting therapists
- Conducting intake interviews
- Three week check-ins with clients
- Secondary gophers
Tentative Course Outline
This will change as needed throughout the semester. You will be notified of all changes.
Mindfulness Audio Recordings
Much of this syllabus was orginally written by Alvin House, who organized and supervised the first DBT groups at the PSC.↩