Washington Square Institute
Treatment Center

Group Series

For information on participating in a group please contact:

Jane Birzin, Coordinator of DBT Group Series for a consultation, WSI
Email: admin@wsi.org

We are presently interviewing for new groups and have a few spaces in some groups that are already in process.

DBT Skill Training Group (patients only)

A DBT Skill Training Group is different from a psychotherapy group. Groups are structured, the leader teaches skills and helps group members to learn, practice and master each skill in order to improve the quality of their lives. Each week a homework assignment is given so that members can practice and apply the skills learned in group to real life situations. Each person can share as little or as much as they like to encourage a safe, secure atmosphere. A non-judgmental environment is encouraged, everything discussed in groups is confidential.

The Skill training group is composed of four modules in which a new topic is covered focusing on specific sets of personal skills: Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotional Regulation and Distress Tolerance. This requires a commitment of 24 weeks ⁄ 6 months; each topic is covered over the course of six weeks. All group members must also be in individual therapy.

Module 1 – Mindfulness Skills: Taken from Zen philosophy, mindfulness skills will help you develop and cultivate an awareness of your thoughts, feelings and interactions with others. Each group member is encouraged to practice being present in the moment without judgment.

Module 2 – Emotional Regulation: Cognitive Behavior techniques are learned. You will come to understand how your thoughts impact your emotions and effect behaviors. In this module, you will learn to identify healthy vs. unhealthy thinking patterns. You will be encouraged to identify and articulate your thoughts, feelings and to monitor your emotions. Members will come to understand that all emotions have functions and will learn to regulate emotions so that they work for you rather than against you.

Module 3 – Interpersonal Effectiveness: In this module you will learn to listen to yourself and others on many levels. Members will learn to be more effective in interpersonal relationships through learning to identify needs and to assert themselves effectively as well as to set boundaries and to say “no” with comfort. Increased self-awareness will lead to improved communication skills and enhanced self-esteem.

Module 4 – Distress Tolerance: Techniques will be taught to help you to tolerate distress without resorting to destructive behaviors.


Jane Birzin, MA, Certified Psychoanalyst

Jane Birzin, M.A., Certified Psychoanalyst, trained in DBT skills.

Jane Birzin has been a staff therapist at Washington Square Institute for fifteen years. She is an adjunct professor at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn. Mrs. Birzin is a former supervisor of guidance and social services at John Jay High School. She is currently a co-leader of 2 DBT groups at Washington Square Institute.

Cynthia Strite, Ed.D.

Cynthia Strite, Ed.D.

Cynthia Strite works with both individuals and couples across all ages and backgrounds at Washington Square Institute and is a co-leader of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) groups at WSI. She has a doctorate in education from Columbia University and is a senior psychoanalytic candidate with the Jungian Psychoanalytic Association in New York City. Her rich and diverse educational background in both the public and private sectors also includes ten years as a professor of leadership in the graduate program of the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Madonna Sullivan, MSW

Madonna Sullivan is a staff member at Washington Square Institute. She received her Masters in Social Work from New York University. Ms. Sullivan has experience working with individuals, couples, and groups. She is co-leading a DBT group at WSI. Madonna is proficient in issues with depression, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, trauma, parenting skills and relationship issues. She has experience treating a wide variety of multicultural client populations ranging from children to elderly adults. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers.

A Psychodynamic Therapy Group: Success in Groups Leads to Success in Life

Groups are where we all become ourselves. Starting with our nuclear families and continuing throughout our lives with our schoolmates, friends, teammates, workmates, etc.the types of attachments we form in groups largely determines the happiness and satisfaction we may experience in our lives. This is why group therapy can be such a valuable experience for those interested in gaining a deeper understanding of who we are and how we can grow into who we want to be in the future.

Some experience in individual therapy is required. A free consultation is offered to explore whether this group is right for you.


Ira Barouch, M.A., L.P.

Ira Barouch has more than 20 years experience in leading groups. Mr. Barouch has been a staff psychotherapist at Washington Square Institute for many years and maintains a private practice in New York City. He is a member of NAAP (The National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis), EGPS (The Eastern Group Psychotherapy Society) and IASD (The International Association for the Study of Dreams).

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