DBT at the Adolescent Day Hospital

What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

DBT was developed by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D., and is used to treat individuals, including adolescents, with complex, difficult-to-treat mental health problems. Some of these problems include: suicidal thoughts and/or self-harm, substance abuse, aggression and oppositionality, bipolar disorder, depression, eating disorders, and symptoms of trauma, to name a few.

DBT places a strong emphasis on teaching people skills to help them with their problems. The treatment is classified as a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which means that it focuses on changing the emotions, thoughts, and actions that interfere with someone’s ability to have the life that they want, what DBT calls a ‘Life Worth Living.’ DBT also has a strong focus on mindfulness and acceptance strategies.

Comprehensive DBT includes individual DBT therapy, DBT skills group, in-the-moment coaching, and a weekly meeting the treatment team attends. Importantly, there is evidence suggesting that DBT skills training alonewhat we offer at the Adolescent Day Hospitalcan help people struggling with a wide variety of both clinical and non-clinical problems across settings.

Click here to watch a short video on DBT.

What skills are taught in DBT?

DBT includes five sets of behavioral skills: 

  • Mindfulness: the practice of being fully aware and present in this one moment
  • Distress Tolerance: how to tolerate, not change, pain in difficult situations
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness: how to ask for what you want and say no while maintaining self-respect and relationships with others
  • Emotion Regulation: how to manage and express your emotions appropriately
  • Walking the Middle Path: how to find balance in life