Background: As part of a Dialectic Behavioral Therapy (DBT) group protocol
intervention approach, 23 Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers with personality
disorder traits and difficulties in emotion regulation participated in an emotion
regulation skills group. The 14-week program was intended to assess the efficacy of
the intervention. The participants filled out pre and post-treatment reportsassessing
emotion regulation difficulties and symptoms.
Methods: 23 IDF mandatory service soldiers who have emotional regulation
difficulties participated in two separate DBT skills groups, in which emotional
regulation skills were taught. The groups were held sequentially in 2018 and 2019
at the Central Mental Health Clinic at Tel HaShomer base. The groups received
weekly DBT instruction from two DBT-trained therapists. Participants filled out the
Mental Wellbeing Questionnaire – ERQ and Mental Health Questionnaire (MHI) preand
Results: Participants showed improvement in emotion regulation difficulties and
symptoms post-treatment, suggesting that the DBT skills group is an effective
intervention, resulting in stronger emotional regulation skills for these soldiers.
Conclusions: IDF soldiers with personality disorder traits and emotion regulation
difficulties complied with the DBT skill group intervention, attended it regularly and
benefited from it, as reflected in the changes in their emotion regulation difficulties
and symptoms. These difficulties, naturally, not only affect these soldiers' wellbeing
and military functioning, but also take a significant toll on the IDF’s mental health
care system, and often result in early discharge. Thus, the implementation of the
DBT skills group could benefit both soldiers with emotion regulation difficulties
and IDF mental health care providers.
Keywords: DBT, psychotherapy, army, personality disorders, emotion regulation, skills training.