Episode 36 | The AFFIRM Group

cbt lgbtq online Mar 24, 2022

The Group Work Podcast. Find out what happens in the space where group therapy takes place.

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Stefanie Sugar and Kristin Ortiz join Katie to discuss their DBT group focused on the LGBTQ+ population who are battling shame and anxiety that has resulted from chronic invalidation. DBT and CBT practices can be invalidating to marginalized folks, the AFFIRM group aims to overcome this gap. The group is 8-weeks long. 

In their discussion, they explore the importance of integrating the structural issues of power and race in groups focused on marginalized people, why the AFFIRM group doesn’t have a formal intake process, and how to have an iterative and flexible relationship with the curriculum you follow in your group.

Stefanie Sugar, Psy.D., is the Director and Founder of the Behavioral Psych Studio.

Kristin Ortiz is a DBT therapist who leads the AFFIRM group at Behavioral Psych Studio.


(00:00) Who are Stefanie Sugar and Kristin Ortiz (AFFIRM group)?

(04:00) How the AFFIRM group overcomes DBT and CBT’s shortcomings. 

(07:00) Carving out a safe space to validate minority stress (and who the AFFIRM group is for).

(11:55) What happens in a group focused on validating marginalized people? 

(14:14) Reducing barriers to entry: only having a phone screen instead of a formal intake process. 

(15:59) Should you have a co-leader in your DBT group? 

(17:33) How to iteratively modify your group’s curriculum by reading the room.  

(20:18) A wholesome way to end your groups. 

(21:59) Merging the structural issues of power, race, and privilege with DBT and CBT. 

(24:50) Keeping in touch with Stefanie Sugar and Kristin Ortiz.


3 Key Takeaways 

  1. DBT and CBT can be invalidating to marginalized groups.  It doesn’t fully address recovering from internalized trauma like internalized homophobia. 
  2. It is important to remember that some curriculums can be flexible and malleable to your group member’s interests and concerns. It can be good practice to read the room and iterate your curriculum as your group progresses. 
  3. The structural issues of power, race and privilege often get left out of DBT and CBT group topics. There is an opportunity for CBT and DBT groups to hone in on these issues and how they’ve caused traumatic invalidation in minority groups.

Tools & Resources

Connect with Stefanie Sugar: LinkedIn | Behavioral Psych Studio

Connect with Kristin Ortiz: LinkedIn 

Project Youth AFFIRM

Yoga therapy governing board: International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT)

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