Dialectical Behaviour Therapy Group for Autistic Adults

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy Group for Autistic Adults

What is Dialectal Behaviour Therapy?

Dialectal Behaviour Therapy, or DBT, was originally developed for patients with Borderline Personality Disorder. DBT aims to help clients who have been routinely exposed to an invalidating environment, which our facilitator Joseph describes as one which “persistently disregards, ignores or punishes an individual for expressing their needs and emotions”. The four pillars of the therapeutic approach are Mindfulness, Distress Tolerance, Emotion Regulation, and Interpersonal Skills.

The skills learnt across these four domains may help to improve functioning and wellbeing in areas such as:

• General mental health
• Stress and anxiety
• Social skills, perspective-taking and the Double Empathy Problem
• Hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli
• Coping skills for intense emotions and hyper-arousal

What will I learn?

This group program aims to help clients develop mindfulness skills, learn ways to manage challenging emotions, develop adaptive coping skills to manage stress, and learn how to create healthy interpersonal relationships. The program was developed specifically to work with the unique challenges and strengths of autistic clients. The sessions will involve both theoretical learning and experiential skill building in a group setting.

Program Structure:

The program will be run with a group of 6-10 participants and two facilitators.

Session 1: Introduction
Sessions 2 and 3: Mindfulness skills
Sessions 4 and 5: Distress Tolerance Skills
Sessions 6 and 7: Emotion Regulation Skills
Sessions 8 and 9: Interpersonal Skills
Session 10: Summary and Closure

Each session will involve a range of activities as well as revision of the previous week.

Please note: if you chose to take part you are asked to commit to attending all ten sessions. The program is structured and missing sessions will reduce how much you get out of the program.

Who is it for? 

The program was developed specifically to work with the unique challenges and strengths of autistic clients.

When and where will it be held?

The program runs for 10 weeks, meeting weekly on Thursday evenings from 5.30pm-7pm. Exact dates will be confirmed upon enquiry, with a new group to start sometime in November 2023. 

The first few sessions will be held in person at the CMI North Melbourne Clinic (Level 1/13 Errol Street, North Melbourne, VIC 3051, and may move online pending participants’ availability.

How much does it cost? 

Clients who have a referral in the form of a GP Mental Health Care Plan are eligible for a Medicare rebate on the cost of sessions. In this instance the sessions are fully bulk-billed sessions with no out-of-pocket cost. Speak to your GP to see if you are eligible. Clients who have private health insurance may be able to claim the sessions through psychology extras. It is advised that you confirm this directly with your health fund to ensure you are covered. If you are accessing the program without a GP referral you will be paying as private client, with a fee of $30 per session.

Who is facilitating the program?

Lead Facilitator and Content Developer
Dr Joseph Allan Sakdalan (he/him) is a registered Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Neuropsychologist who is passionate about supporting neurodivergent clients, and has extensive experience working with this population. Joseph’s considerable background in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy has informed the development of an adapted DBT program for autistic clients who are having mental health difficulties. Joseph is an international expert and has presented locally and internationally in the areas of mental health, forensic psychology, intellectual disability, neurodevelopmental disorders, and evidence-based treatment for clients with complex presentations.

Assistant Facilitator and Content Developer
Ally Culhane (she/her)Ally is a Provisional Psychologist, practicing at the Cairnmillar Clinic under the guidance and mentorship of Dr Sakdalan. Ally identifies as neurodivergent and is
passionate about providing affirming and accessible mental health care. She is committed to promoting equity and inclusion for autistic people as both practitioners and consumers of mental health care, and the ideal of “Different, Not Less”. She has completed training on working with neurodivergent individuals, participated in focus groups to inform the updated National Guideline for the Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders, and is assisting Dr Sakdalan in the development. 

How can I/we enrol?

Please contact our clinic admin staff at clinic@cairnmillar.org.au or 1800 391 393. You can also register your interest here.

crisis numbers

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