Dialectic Behavioral Therapy (DBT) Skills Training
Dialectic Behavioral Therapy (DBT) Skills training group is unlike traditional therapy. DBT groups focus on teaching new coping skills to teens who while very bright may at times act much younger or less skillful than friends or classmates. Part of what makes DBT work is two therapists working together, one acting as a skills trainer and one as a therapist. Our group also incorporates a male and female therapist working together.
Many teens in our group struggle with all or nothing thinking, issuing threats, or meltdowns. They also tend to be academically bright and lively. Parents often struggle in understanding how to help their teen. DBT skills training may be a good fit for your teen and family. Four modules (listed below) are taught in DBT, during sixteen group sessions. Parents participate in two separate group orientations to understand the skills and get some practical tips and education. Some of these challenges can seem unusual for parents, so it’s often relieving to see other parents with the same struggles.
Mindfulness training guides teens in understanding the mind-body awareness so they understand emotions as part of themselves as well as physical sensations, mood, and the body’s response to the environment as well as their own thoughts.
Emotional regulation training gives real tools for the teens to use in calming themselves to increase a sense of mastery so that emotions serve a purpose and function. These skills allow teens to improve interpersonal effectiveness which when lacking present as threats such as “I hate you” or “you’re going to pay for this”, or “you’ve ruined my life”
Learning to tolerate distress allows time and provides space for processing emotions. When things don’t go our way, we need to develop grit to continue to appropriately get our needs meet, regulate our emotions and develop social competency. This tolerance for setbacks helps us to have time to regulate our emotions. Teens learn these skills and practice them through the week and share the experience with each other in skills group.
Interpersonal Skills. As the group foster mindfulness, emotional regulation and distress tolerance, more consistent practice of interpersonal skills emerge. How to negotiate without losing your temper. How to set limits while not burning bridges. How to express anger without going nuclear. How to make a deal while satisfying the other person. How to increase the chances you get what you need without being manipulative. How to resist cutting off your nose to spite your face. Or learning relationships and playing by the rules.
We teach teens the skills as we practice the skills with them. We use these DBT skills in group and have used the skills in our own lives because they are effective and empowering all while protective of ourselves and our relationships.