The focus of TheraHive DBT Skills Groups is on learning to use skills in real-life situations. To achieve this goal, students must be open to feedback, even if it means being vulnerable about where their current skill use isn’t effective. Learning to share effectively and receive feedback is at the heart of our group experience, and our coaches are trained to help facilitate this process. Whether you’re taking a TheraHive program or in another DBT skills group, this post will guide you on how much to share, and how to share your experience to get the feedback you need.
Overall your goal is to briefly, and concisely, provide the necessary information for your group and coach to provide feedback on your skills use.
Before we get into it, here are some simple DOs and DON’T to keep in mind:
- Briefly share which skill you used and why you chose it
- Briefly share when, where, and why you used the skill
- Briefly explain where what worked and where you got stuck (if you did)
- Hesitate to share because you’re afraid of oversharing—your coach will provide feedback if and when you do.
- Get discouraged if your coach interrupts you and asks you to be more brief and concise—that’s how you’ll develop the interpersonal skills and self-awareness necessary to be effective.
Detailed Guidance on Sharing Effectively
Ok, now let's get into a more detailed set of guidelines to consider if you feel like you’re not sure how much to share — remember, the goal is to empower YOU to use skills effectively in real-life situations.
- Be Concise and Relevant: When sharing your experiences, aim to be concise and focus on providing just the necessary context to explain your skill use. Ask yourself, "What facts are essential to relay to get the feedback I need?" Keep your sharing directly related to the skill or topic being discussed in the group.
- Avoid Delving into Underlying Issues: Unlike individual therapy, the purpose of a DBT Skills Group is not to explore the underlying psychological issues that led to the need for skill use. Instead, it's about learning and practicing effective skills. While it's okay to mention the situation briefly, avoid lengthy discussions about the past or deep exploration of emotions.
- Highlight Skill Application: Emphasize the specific DBT skill you used, how you applied it in the situation, and the outcomes you observed. For instance, describe the distress tolerance skill you employed, how it helped, and what you learned from it.
- Be Mindful of Time: Remember that group sessions are time-limited, and other members also need to share and receive feedback. Being concise helps ensure that everyone gets a chance to participate.
- Ask for Feedback: After sharing your experience, specifically ask for feedback from the group. Invite suggestions for improving your skill use, or inquire if anyone else has faced similar situations.
- Be Open to Feedback: Be receptive to constructive feedback from the group and the coach. Part of group participation is learning how to share appropriately, and feedback is an essential part of that learning process.
- Role of the Coach: The coach plays a crucial role in guiding the group and ensuring that participation is balanced and appropriate. They will provide feedback to group members if they observe over-sharing or under-sharing, helping students find the right balance.
A Real-Life Example of Oversharing and Getting It Right
“So, last weekend, I had this planned outing with my friend Lisa. We were heading to the beach, and I was super excited. The weather was perfect, we packed a huge cooler with snacks and drinks … I needed this to be a relaxing break since I had a crazy week. Anyway, we got to the beach, and it felt like I was going to get a much-needed reprieve.
So, we set up our spot, and I wanted to play some music—it was kinda the final touch for me to get in the mood. You see, I had curated a playlist, a veritable symphony of sound designed to transport us to a world of relaxation and pure bliss. This playlist was my sonic masterpiece, a journey that would elevate our beach day into an experience of transcendence. I was positively thrilled to share this auditory voyage with Lisa, however, she was acting odd.
As soon as the music started she started complaining about it immediately. She wanted to listen to something kinda super high energy where I needed to relax. She just didn’t get it, and it became this big argument. I said some things that I probably shouldn’t have, and she criticized me …. It got stressful quickly. I ended up feeling angry and frustrated and throwing sand all over our blanket. At that point, I did try to use the STOP skill to calm myself down because the situation felt out of control. It reminded me of what would happen when I was a kid. My dad was always criticizing me, I couldn’t do anything right. Always felt like I was doing something wrong and couldn’t do anything right, it was so frustrating. I hate my dad. I am currently not talking to him and I’m not sure I ever want to talk to him again, honestly. We have a terrible relationship. I don’t know how my siblings stayed in touch with him, he was horrible to all of us. Anyway, I did stop and take a step back after throwing the sand. I walked away for a minute. I tried to do the OBSERVE step too. I mean, she's been driving me nuts, and it's been this way for a while. I'm pretty sure it's because of her childhood issues, and my therapist thinks she needs therapy too, but she refuses to see it. I guess I'll keep using the STOP skill to deal with it. Anyway, that’s where I got stuck, and the rest of the day was really tense and not the break I needed.”
Appropriate Sharing Example
“During a much-needed weekend beach trip with my friend Lisa, we argued about my choice of music. The disagreement escalated, and I tried to use the STOP skill because I threw some sand and was on the edge of throwing more. I did the “S” and “T” and stepped away for a moment, but I got stuck when I got to the OBSERVE step. I wasn’t able to get to a place of mindfulness, and I felt so frustrated and ashamed for losing my temper. I need help figuring out how to use the OBSERVE step in these kinds of situations.”
It’s all about Interpersonal Effectiveness
At TheraHive, our students typically take the DBT Interpersonal Effectiveness module as their last module. This is because it stands on the shoulders of the other modules … but it can feel counterintuitive because being an active participant in groups requires a certain level of interpersonal skills out of the gate!
This speaks to the importance of coaching—before we even get into the interpersonal effectiveness module, TheraHive coaches model the skills and provide guidance and coaching to students in the context of live group sessions. Effective sharing and being vulnerable in groups is a skill that our students practice throughout their program with TheraHive and by the end of the program our students demonstrate not only effective skills use but also effective communication about skills use!