DBT Self-Help Groups

The goal of DBT Self-help Groups is to become a self-managed membership organization for people who want to practice DBT skills in a supportive environment.

Although DBT was originally developed for mentally ill people, it has come a long way. Many people outside of the mental health community as well as those who have graduated from DBT programs are finding that the life skills of DBT can be transformational to a much broader group of people. Building on the success of DBTs foundational cognitive skills practices, we are working to form weekly group meetings nationwide, in which anyone who experiences emotional pain and insecurity in their lives can come together and support one another to persevere in ongoing personal growth.

As self-help groups are established, they will be published in this section.

How the idea got started:

DBT Self Help started as a brainstorm by some of the members of a DBT Skills listserv. After years of participating online with other people interested in DBT, we found that those who had graduated from DBT programs wanted more. They craved “live” ongoing support so that they could continue on the path of healing precipitated by DBT. We found that the nature of DBT skills practice is helpful not only to people in crisis, but also lends itself to transcendence - a cognitive method which any person in the world could use to help themselves improve their quality of life.

From this discussion emerged a small group of people who had the drive, the commitment and the means to gradually put these ideas to action, thus this website.

Our long term goal is to organize a means whereby people could attend weekly meetings focused entirely on the DBT skills and facilitated by peer groups. We have no interest in replacing existing clinical DBT groups and counseling programs. We are not qualified to do so. Our focus is not on curing mental illness. Our focus is to work with people who are already at a significant stage of recovery and provide a means to facilitate ongoing healthy life practices. We would also like to continue to build our list of professionals in the mental health community who endorse our efforts and share our enthusiasm for facilitating ongoing peer-managed life skills practices. (If you are a professional who would like to do this, please go to the contact page and send us an email.)

Eventually, we hope that you will be able to come to this site, click on the “
Self Help Groups” tab and find a meeting near you. You would also find contact names and the necessary information to attend or apply to that meeting.


In the meantime, our secondary goal is to provide practical information about DBT and other life skills practices, as well as lessons and articles about skills usage and helpful advice and personal testimonials. We have already heard from nearly a hundred people who have been diagnosed with mental illness, have recovered, and wish desperately that they could be part of a peer-driven group focused on practical ways to continue to improve their skills in the workplace, with families and communities and in their personal lives. Furthermore, people who have never been diagnosed with mental illness with whom we have shared these life skills have found them to be extremely useful in their lives.

Thus far, there have been some DBT experts in the clinical community who support our efforts and others who do not. Some experts do not believe that people with mental illness or borderline personality disorder or serious emotional stress are capable of helping each other.


We are inspired by the model of Alcoholics Anonymous - an organization that began with a small group of alcoholics who met and found that by practicing a certain set of spiritual principles, they were able to successfully abstain from their addiction and addictive behaviors. The key principle to their success has been regular peer support.

It is perhaps too much to hope for the success of AA. But if we are able to continue to improve our own lives and help a mere handful of others to grow beyond emotional pain and experience a happier and more effective life, we will have served our purpose.

We would like to offer a special thanks to Marsha Linehan, the “inventor” of DBT, without whom, many people would still be living lives bereft of hope for recovery. There are some of us who owe our lives to her and the work she did in bringing together the principles and practices now associated with DBT.

We must also state, however, that the ideals and opinions expressed on this website are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect or agree with those of Marsha Linehan and the organizations currently associated with DBT. We are an independent entity in the process of forming a new nonprofit organization with a vision of sharing our success in using the cognitive life skills portion of DBT.

by Lisa Dietz and Kiera Van Gelder

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