How Does DBT Work for Troubled Teens?

Parenting teenagers is very challenging. More and more homes are experiencing defiant, angry and even aggressive behavior. Therapy and counseling can be a good start to determine where their strong emotions are stemming from. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) has been very successful with treating troubled teens.

Is your teen facing:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Self-harming
  • Suicide ideation
  • Trauma (PTSD)
  • Family and peer conflict
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Anger, defiance or rage

DBT is based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), but it’s specially adapted for people who feel emotions very intensely. DBT teaches specific, concrete, tangible skills towards acceptance and changing behaviors.

How Does DBT Work for Troubled Teens?

When you have a teenager who is distressed, it can affect the entire family. It can be difficult to find ways to support teens who constantly feel like their emotions are raging.

Individual therapy usually involves weekly one-to-one sessions (sometimes twice a week) with a DBT therapist. Each session lasts approximately 45–60 minutes and treatment can last up to 5 months for adolescents with an option to repeat it.

Intensive outpatient therapy (IOP) will meet several times a week, often 3-5 groups per week. Depending on the program, outpatient therapy may be entirely DBT-focused, or DBT may be a portion of the program. 

Residential and inpatient treatment programs both have the teens on-site for the entire day, which offers many potential variations and creativity for delivering DBT.

DBT therapists’ goals:

  1. Understanding, managing and regulating emotions
  2. Tolerating distress and crises without making problems bigger
  3. Maintaining satisfying relationships with others
  4. Increasing self-awareness, expanding one’s ability to recognize alternative points of view and managing emotional situations
  5. Increasing problem-solving skills, learning validation and effectively managing differences of opinion with family members

We are in an adolescent mental health crisis and epidemic at this time: Young people are experiencing higher rates of dying by suicide, suicide ideation, depression, and anxiety. Simply: Teens are struggling more with the amount they need to learn about themselves and the rapid pace at which they must learn to navigate their world.

DBT has been successful in helping your troubled teenager cope with and regulate their emotions.

If you are looking for a DBT therapist for your teen, start by contacting your insurance company. Your insurance company will have a list of covered therapists. 

Read: Where to Send My Troubled Teenager.

Read: 5 Benefits of Boarding Schools for Troubled Teens.

Help Your Teens With

Recommended articles

Many parents are at their wit’s end with the challenges of raising teenagers. If you are considering residential therapy, contact us for a free consultation.

Get your first free online consultation

Bibendum neque egestas congue quisque egestas diam. Laoreet id donec ultrices tincidunt arcu non sodales neque