Pilot study of a brief dialectical behavior therapy skills group for jail inmates – 2018-02

Regulating emotions, refraining from impulsive, maladaptive behavior, and communicating effectively are considered primary treatment needs among jail inmates. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT; Linehan, 1993a) skills address these deficits and have been implemented in long-term correctional settings, but have yet to be adapted for general population inmates in short-term jail settings. This study assessed the feasibility and acceptability of a DBT skills group in a jail setting, as well as its utility in improving coping skills and emotional/behavioral dysregulation. Male jail inmates participated in an 8-week DBT skills group and completed pre- and posttest assessments of coping skills, emotional/behavioral dysregulation, and measures of treatment acceptability. Out of 27 who started therapy, 16 completed it, primarily due to involuntary attrition such as transfer to another correctional facility. Although several logistical issues arose during this pilot study, preliminary results suggest that a brief DBT skills group is feasible and acceptable in a jail setting, and may improve coping skills and reduce externalization of blame among general population jail inmates. This study lays the groundwork for larger, controlled trials of abbreviated DBT skills groups for general population inmates in short-term jail settings.

Moore, Kelly E. Folk, Johanna B. Boren, Emily A. Tangney, June P. Fischer, Sarah Schrader, Shannon W.
Psychological Services, 15(1), 98-108. 2018