Adolescent DBT Program Services at Trinitas Regional Medical Center

What to Expect

Adolescent DBT Program

Multi-Family Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Groups

The multi-family Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills groups consist of teens and at least one parent/caregiver per teen, with up to six families per group. They are led by two clinicians, who rotate leading/co-leading each module.

Groups are two hours long.

The first half is devoted to mindfulness practice and homework review of skills taught the previous week, and the second half is focused on teaching new skills. There is a break in the middle of group, and snacks and drinks are provided.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skills groups are more like classes than therapy groups, as the primary goal is for clients to learn skills. Groups do not allow for discussion or even mention of topics that might be upsetting for other group members, for example, self-harm, suicidality, substance use, violence, trauma and eating-disordered behaviors. Instead, clients are encouraged to wait until their next individual therapy session, get coaching from the co-leader, or reach out for phone coaching from their individual therapists.

Individual DBT Sessions

Individual dialectical behavior therapy sessions are collaborative sessions between clients and therapists. Parents/caregivers are included on an as-needed basis. Therapists are careful to balance both validation of their clients' experiences with identification of solutions to their problems. Therapists will also help clients practice and troubleshoot skills in session to help them be successful. Discussion is sessions are prioritized according to a hierarchy of behaviors:

  1. Life-threatening behaviors
  2. Therapy-interfering behaviors
  3. Quality-of-life interfering behaviors

This structure helps to organize both therapists and clients in addressing and managing the (often) many stressors and behaviors occurring in clients' lives in the most effective and efficient manner.

Phone Coaching

Everybody needs help and encouragement when learning new behaviors to replace old habits. In order to learn how to use skills in real-life situations outside of therapy, the Trinitas DBT programs offer phone coaching as an essential part of treatment. Here are some examples of when coaching can be helpful:

  • When your emotions are very high, and it feels impossible to use skills that you have learned in group
  • When you have not yet thought of what skills to use in a specific situation
  • When you need to use a skill that you have not yet learned
  • When urges overpower your brain and you cannot seem to remember the skills you already know

We want you to call for help at these times so that you can use skills rather than make your situation worse. People that use coaching notice it helps them think more clearly, and helps them know what to do the next time a difficult situation comes up.

Helping DBT Work for You

Dialectical behavioral therapy is a treatment that requires hard work, time and energy. The most successful clients and families make sure to do the following:

  • Come to every individual/family session and DBT skills group
  • Practice skills outside of sessions
  • Complete practice assignments
  • Fill out the diary card regularly
  • Follow the guidelines of the program
  • Are honest with their therapists
  • Are willing to listen to feedback from their therapists
  • Are willing to make mistakes
  • Are active members in DBT skills group (asking questions, sharing thoughts)
  • Remind themselves that changing behavior is difficult and requires patience

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Patient Stories

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