Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Adolescents

ACP is now offering DBT for adolescents age 14-18.

What is DBT?

DBT or Dialectical Behavior Therapy was developed in the 1980s by Marsha Linehan as a treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder. In the past 30 years, researchers have found it to also be a very effective treatment for multiple other conditions, including depression, PTSD, impulsivity, eating disorders, and some forms of anxiety.

How is the DBT program structured?

Clients in our DBT program receive three modes of treatment – individual therapy, skills group, and family therapy. Our clients meet with their individual therapist for one hour a week and attend a 90 minute weekly skills group for 24 weeks. They also meet once a month for family therapy. (NOTE: clients are welcome to participate in just the skills group as long as they have an established therapist, whether at ACP or somewhere else). Unlike traditional group psychotherapy which focuses on processing experiences and feelings, DBT groups focus on learning five sets of important skills:

  • Mindfulness: Becoming more aware of self and others and attentive to the present moment.
  • Distress tolerance: Feeling intense emotions like anger without reacting impulsively or using self-injury or substance abuse to dampen distress.
  • Emotional regulation: Recognizing, labeling, and adjusting emotions.
  • Interpersonal effectiveness: Navigating conflict and interacting assertively.
  • Walking the Middle Path: Balancing acceptance of self in this moment while also working towards change. Looking to reduce conflict by considering other perspectives and truth in all sides. Focus on increasing validation of self and others.

What are the top targets and goals of treatment in DBT?

The most important of the overall goals in DBT is helping clients create a “life worth living.” What makes a life worth living varies from client to client. For some, a life worth living is finding a partner and having kids. For others, it’s finishing school and pursuing a career. Others might focus on creative expression or being able to find enjoyment in daily activities.

Why DBT?

Adolescent DBT is geared towards teens aged 14-18 struggling with regulating difficult emotions, impulsive behaviors, conflict in relationships, and Adolescent-Family dilemmas. Adolescent groups focus of teaching tools to help teens cope with changes in relationships and increase self-regulation strategies. DBT has been shown to be effective in reducing impulsive behaviors in teenagers while giving them the tools to navigate relationship and emotional challenges.

Where and When is Adolescent DBT Offered?

Our DBT Program for adolescents aged 14-18 is offered at our West St. Paul clinic. The weekly skill group meets Mondays from 4:30pm to 6:00pm (starting 9/10), while individual and family therapy are scheduled separately.

For questions about the program, to sign up, or to get on the wait-list, contact Julie Blatz at 612-925-6033 ext. 8806.

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