Extending DBT To Couples

Why is it we sometimes say the nastiest things to the person we love the most? How is it that seemingly simple negotiations sometimes end up with partners screaming at each other?  How do we end up snapping and acting in ways we swore we would never do again? What makes people who love each other sometimes get really anxious when approaching each other, or leads us to avoid talking about important matters?  And more importantly, how can we learn to stop long-standing patterns of destructive conflict, develop the skills to manage our negative emotions and destructive urges, and learn how to talk and listen in ways that lead to understanding, validation, negotiation and closeness?

These are the questions Alan Fruzzetti seeks to answer in his research on how to effectively apply DBT to families and couples. About Fruzzetti, Marsha Linehan says, “Alan has been working with DBT for 20 years, teaching it and adapting it for couples, families and adolescents …. He is at the fore of work in this area.”

Couples DBT Skills Group in St. Louis

Starting September 15, St. Louis DBT, LLC will offer a 12 week Couples DBT skills group based on Dr. Fruzzetti’s research. The skills group is intended for couples who argue frequently or who avoid interaction for fear of arguing.  To our knowledge, this is the first time Couples DBT has been made available in the St. Louis area.

We urge you to refer couples that might benefit from learning to apply DBT skills together. Before you say, “I don’t work with couples,” think about referring the parents of your clients who fight in front of their children or the client (and his/her partner) who comes to you hurting from relationship problems.   We see this skills group as a collaboration between the couple, primary therapist and skills group leaders. As a collaboration, you have the opportunity to get in on the ground floor.  During and after the 12 week skills group, we will be asking for your feedback so we can improve the group’s effectiveness for next time.

The skills group will be based on Alan Fruzzetti’s book, The High Conflict Couple: A DBT Guide to Finding Peace, Intimacy &Validation. In her foreword, Marsha Linehan writes Fruzzetti’s application of DBT to couples “is sensitive to the needs of struggling spouses and partners who have a variety of situations that couples find themselves in and provides thoughtful and practical ideas and practice exercises to help people decrease destructive conflict and find peace and intimacy in their relationships.”

Skills Group Focuses on Relationship Goals

Whether or not you are a DBT therapist, this skills group can effectively fit into your treatment plan.  Instead of presenting skills in modules, each session focuses on a relationship goal and presents skills related to achieving that goal.  Skills are not named with challenging acronyms to memorize; rather, they are presented as practical behaviors to apply and practice. Relationship goals to be addressed in the skills group are:

  •  Understanding the role of emotion in relationships
  • Accepting yourself and each other as is
  • Learning to stop making things worse
  • Reactivating the relationship
  • Being genuinely together when spending time together
  • Expressing what they mean accurately
  • Validating each other
  • Recovering from a history of invalidation
  • Managing problems and negotiating solutions
  • Transforming conflict into closeness

Skills Group Co-Leaders

Sandra Miller, MSW, LCSW will be the group leader with Paige Lynch, MA, LPC co-leading. In addition to her MSW, Sandra has a 21 credit postgraduate certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy as well as 24 hours continuing education in DBT.  She has used DBT in community mental health, at Safe Connections and now in private practice with St. Louis DBT, LLC.  Before entering private practice, Paige provided in-home therapy to couples and families through Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services of Missouri.

Skills Group Details

What:   DBT for High Conflict and Distant Couples

Who:     Couples couples who argue frequently or who avoid interaction for fear of arguing. The group is not appropriate for couples in relationships in which domestic violence is occurring currently

When:  Thursdays from 6:15 to 8:15 pm.

Dates:   September 15, 2016 through December 1, 2016 (excluding Thanksgiving)

How Long:  12 weeks

Cost:     $75/week/couple.  Documentation will be provided for out-of-network reimbursement.

Where:  St Louis DBT, LLC, 1034 S. Brentwood Blvd, Suite 555 (across from the Galleria). Richmond Heights, MO 63117

Learn More: DBT for High Conflict Couples

Register: Email, fax or mail your signed application to:

Sandra Miller, MSW, LCSW
St Louis DBT, LLC
1034 S. Brentwood Blvd, Suite 555
Richmond Heights, MO 63130
[o] 314.932.7415 | [f] 314-667-3422  [e] sandra@stldbt.com | www.stldbt.com

Application Form

Deadline:  Register no later than September 12, 2016

Questions:  Contact me for a client application form, to ask questions or to discuss suitability of your client. I will make every effort to respond the same day.