Teen Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

19e79fa6e38620282837095f73d87b14At Paradigm San Francisco, we incorporate Teen Dialectical Behavioral Therapy as one of our therapeutic approaches, during our individual therapy sessions.  Teen Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy, which focuses on the relationship between teens’ symptoms related to their mental health condition and their social interactions.  

Originally Teen Dialectical Behavioral Therapy was designed as a treatment strategy for Teen Borderline Personality Disorder, since one of the most common effects of this illness is how the teens’ relationships are negatively affected by symptoms.  Now, Teen Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is implemented for a number of different mental health conditions that have mood fluctuations.  This includes teens struggling with: Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Suicidal Ideation, and Self-Harm disorder, among others.  At Paradigm San Francisco, Teen Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is implemented on a case-by-case basis, as determined by the teens’ lead therapist and treatment team.

The focus of Teen DBT is to teach teens skills that will allow them to cope with their mood fluctuations, so that teens can decrease the severity of the symptoms as well as improve their ability to function healthily in relationships.  Because in Teen DBT sessions teens are focusing on their responses to their moods, therapists work with teens to practice an acceptance and compassion toward their changing moods, while also working on practical skills to navigate them.  In this sense, the goal-oriented approach of this therapy is similar but less strict than that of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Some of the unique strategies of the Teen Dialectical Behavioral Therapy process include: Structuring The Environment, Support Strategy, the Dialectical philosophy, Mindfulness, and teaching teens skills to help regulate emotions.  Structuring the Environment is the safe, non-judgmental environment which the therapists creates for the teen to engage in treatment and is also the therapists and teens working together to change their environments, in order to be successful in their treatment goals.  (This might include not hanging out with certain friends and/or no longer participating in certain activities.)  Support Strategy is the therapists helping teens to rebuild a positive sense of self, as well as incorporating and building on positive aspects of their lives.  The Dialectical Philosophy is a balance of helping teens to feel accepted as they are, and yet also be motivated to make positive changes in their lives.  Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present in the given moment and situation, and noticing aspects of self and the environment, without reacting to or judging it.  Throughout all of these processes, therapists also work with teens to help them gain an awareness of their reactions and gradually in time, learn to adjust those reactions and manage them in more healthy ways.
Teen Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is one of the many therapeutic approaches incorporated into teen treatment programs at Paradigm San Francisco.  Teen DBT is implemented in both individual and group therapy sessions.