Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based talk therapy for children, teenagers, and adults that helps manage intense emotions that lead to problematic behaviors.
The word “dialectical” comes from the idea that bringing together two opposites in therapy–acceptance and change–will achieve a better result than using one alone. DBT primarily focuses on utilizing radical acceptance of one’s experience to be able to change negative behaviors.
The major goal of DBT is first to stop a dysfunctional behavior and then proceed to address and manage the negative thought patterns that lead to that behavior. In treatment, teens will be helped to offset intense emotions through learning a range of useful mindfulness practices and practical problem-solving skills.
Substantial research has been carried out on dialectical behavior therapy as an effective mental health treatment for teens and young adults. It is a great option to assist families who want to help their children manage intense and painful emotions because it teaches actionable long-term DBT skills.
Essentially, DBT will help teens who are experiencing great trouble managing their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. It also focuses on dealing with and decreasing post-traumatic stress responses from any trauma a teen has faced. Even adolescents who require improvement in their self-confidence and self-esteem will benefit from a DBT program.
Dialectical behavior therapy can help with any of the following:
Dialectical behavior therapy is well-adapted to meet the suitable care level that an adolescent may require. This ranges from general skills training groups to high-level clinical care. A psychiatrist will help determine which approach is best for your teen.
A residential DBT treatment program will require your teen to stay at our facility and individual therapy will be prioritized. In these sessions, therapists will focus on a small selection of specific skills that your teen can benefit from to make sure that they are learned well enough to be practiced when the program ends.
An outpatient program is a major component of delivering traditional DBT. Valuable DBT skills can either be taught in individual therapy, a group setting, or through phone coaching.
Outpatient therapy is for children and adolescents who are struggling with their mental health but are stable and safe enough between sessions not to require intensive inpatient care.
The most significant alteration of the DBT treatment process for teens is the inclusion of family members or caregivers in skills training sessions. Involving caregivers allows for significant improvement in therapy because home-life issues that potentially undermine treatment can be addressed.
Additionally, DBT for teens tends to be more hands-on with individual and group therapy, giving examples that teens can relate to. Group sessions are often shortened to accommodate adolescents' attention spans.
In group therapy sessions led by a certified DBT therapist, adolescents are taught skills from one out of four different DBT techniques; emotion regulation, mindfulness, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness.
To strengthen adolescent relationships, there are three approaches included in the interpersonal effectiveness DBT skills training. Adolescents will be provided with scripts for each approach when receiving DBT worksheets.
The DBT treatment model for children and teenagers, created by Dr. Marsha Linehan, specifies four levels of dialectical behavior therapy. Teens will move through the stages as their behaviors and goals evolve.
DBT Stage 4 - This represents life after treatment.
Dialectical behavior therapy shares many concepts with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), but they do differ in techniques.
In CBT, a therapist works with a client to change their thinking patterns to be more positive in order to change their emotions and behavior. While in DBT, therapists work to change the harmful behaviors first. Essentially, CBT is thought-focused, and DBT is behavior-focused.
Yes, DBT is an effective treatment for children and teenagers. With the helpful combination of mindfulness and effective problem-solving skills, DBT gives emotionally reactive teens the right tools to respond healthily to stressful life situations.
Dialectical behavior therapy is an effective, evidence-based treatment for borderline personality disorder and many other mental health issues that involve intense emotional disturbances.
DBT is a comprehensive treatment for all teenagers experiencing a great deal of trouble managing their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.
Some aspects of DBT to consider are:
Medication management is not required for DBT but is offered when needed.
As DBT treats intense emotional dysfunction, treatment can be pretty long. Standard outpatient DBT treatment once a week can last from 6 months to a year. Teens can expect to see improvement after six months if they are reinforcing their learned skills at home.
As DBT is a psychotherapy treatment, your insurance will cover it if your plan includes psychotherapy or behavioral medicine. However, your insurance may only cover a specific amount of sessions
If you find your teen is engaging in destructive behaviors or suffering with their emotional regulation, you should emphasize compassion and help them seek effective treatment. At Clearfork Academy, we’re here to ensure that your teen gets the support they need. Contact us today for a free screening.