Group therapy for university students: A randomized control trial of dialectical behavior therapy and positive psychotherapy

Behav Res Ther. 2016 Feb;77:78-85. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2015.12.003. Epub 2015 Dec 11.


The present study examined the efficacy of two evidence-based group treatments for significant psychopathology in university students. Fifty-four treatment-seeking participants were randomized to a semester-long dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) or positive psychotherapy (PPT) group treatment. Mixed modeling was used to assess improvement over time and group differences on variables related to symptomatology, adapative/maladaptive skill usage, and well-being/acceptability factors. All symptom and skill variables improved over the course of treatment. There were no statistically significant differences in rate of change between groups. The DBT group evidenced nearly all medium to large effect sizes for all measures from pre-to post-treatment, with mostly small to medium effect sizes for the PPT group. There was a significant difference in acceptability between treatments, with the DBT group demonstrating significantly lower attrition rates, higher attendance, and higher overall therapeutic alliance. While both groups demonstrated efficacy in this population, the DBT group appeared to be a more acceptable and efficacious treatment for implementation. Results may specifically apply to group therapy as an adjunctive treatment because a majority of participants had concurrent individual therapy.

Keywords: College counseling center; Dialectical behavior therapy; Positive psychotherapy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychometrics
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Psychotherapy, Group
  • Students
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Universities
  • Young Adult