DBT Life Skills Group at Headspace


It has been almost 2 years since the very first Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) Life Skills group began at Footprints in Brisbane Inc. (Footprints). In recognition of the overwhelming interest and positive feedback received from participants over this time and considering a fast growing wait list, Footprints decided to create a second group. Since September 2016, Footprints has been working closely with Headspace Taringa to provide this stand-alone skills group to younger people. This came about as Headspace identified a need for behavioural skills training for youth in order to compliment the individual therapy currently provided by their psychologists. From these initial concepts, Footprints and Headspace have developed a strong partnership to broaden the reach of DBT Life Skills groups and support a wider range of our community.

Both the Actioning, Recovery and Citizenship (ARC) and Partners in Recovery (PiR) programs at Footprints have come together to provide Headspace clients with the necessary skills in Mindfulness Practice, Distress Tolerance, Interpersonal Effectiveness and Emotion Regulation. Attendance rates have remained high over the course of the modules and Pre and post feedback showed participants reported significant improvements when practicing the skills taught in real life situations.

The majority of participants reported that they enjoyed learning a variety of skills and DBT concepts including mindfulness, reality acceptance, practicing nonjudgmentalism and that this consistently role modelled throughout the sessions. Participants commented positively on the size of the group and that it was beneficial to see how other group members put the skills to use when sharing examples during the homework review sessions.

Participants emphasised particular learnings they intend to implement in the future including mindfulness practice, accepting that pain is an integral part of life and crisis survival skills to calm down in stressful situations. Participants shared their experience of distress tolerance skills and reported the benefits in applying them to real life situations. It was delightful to hear that participants noticed an increase in their everyday productivity levels, reduced anxiety and anger, increased willingness, insight into destructive behaviours, wanting to share their learnings with others who may benefit from the skills, and an increase in their ability to cope in some situations. Participant’s feedback showed that the intensity of the course could at times become overwhelming including the amount of homework required but the benefits were worthwhile. Footprints frequently collate data for statistical purposes in order to evaluate results and capture changes to participant’s behaviours.

Footprints DBT facilitators are currently running the Mindfulness and Interpersonal Effectiveness modules at Headspace, Taringa with a further 3 sessions leading to the Easter break. The Emotion Regulation module begins in May 2017 and will run for 11 weeks, including induction.

One of Footprints’ DBT facilitators will be attending the 3-day training in Melbourne with Dr Marsha Linehan (founder of DBT) who is presenting on Practical Skills Training: Foundations & Updates. Footprints is excited to be proactive in keeping up to date and upskilling facilitators. We are looking forward to sharing our learnings at future groups.

Any enquiries related to accessing the Footprints DBT Life Skills group at Headspace Taringa, please phone Naoko Hansen (ARC Group Coordinator) on (07) 3252 3488.

Sally Jorna

Actioning Recovery and Citizenship Program 

  • 24 Light Street Fortitude Valley Qld 4006
    PO Box 735 New Farm 4005
  • (07) 3252 3488
  • ABN 15 100 277 492


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