DBT Skills Group: Adolescent
Adolescent DBT Skills Group
The Adolescent DBT Skills Group is for adolescents who would like to learn how to cope more effectively with intense emotions, problematic thoughts or behaviors (i.e. negative thinking, self-harm, substance use, suicidal thinking), and/or relationship struggles. Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation, and Distress Tolerance skills are taught in order to reduce self-destructive behaviors and learn more adaptive ways to manage painful emotions. The Austin group meets weekly on Tuesdays from 4:30-6:00pm at our Westlake location.
What is a DBT skills Group?
A Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills group for adolescents is a therapeutic program designed specifically for teenagers or adolescents who may be struggling with emotional regulation, interpersonal difficulties, impulsive behaviors, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, or other emotional and behavioral challenges. DBT is a evidence-based approach originally developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan, and it has been adapted for use with adolescents.
Here are key components and features of a DBT skills group for adolescents:
Structured Curriculum: The group typically follows a structured curriculum that teaches specific DBT skills. These skills are organized into four modules: Mindfulness, Distress Tolerance, Emotion Regulation, and Interpersonal Effectiveness. Each module focuses on different aspects of emotional regulation and interpersonal relationships.
Psychoeducation: Adolescents are taught about the underlying principles of DBT, including the concept of dialectics (balancing acceptance and change), validation, and the biosocial theory of emotion dysregulation.
Skills Training: Participants learn practical, evidence-based skills to manage emotions, tolerate distress, communicate effectively, and improve interpersonal relationships. These skills are taught through group discussions, role-playing, and homework assignments.
Individual Therapy: In addition to the group sessions, participants often receive individual therapy from a DBT-trained therapist. Individual therapy allows for more personalized support and guidance tailored to the adolescent’s unique challenges and progress.
Parental Involvement: Parental involvement is a crucial component of DBT for adolescents. Parents or caregivers are typically offered their own support and training to help them understand and reinforce the skills their child is learning in the group.
Safety and Crisis Management: Given the population’s vulnerability, a DBT skills group for adolescents is equipped to handle crisis situations, including self-harm and suicidal ideation. Therapists are trained to assess and manage such situations while providing a safe and supportive environment.
Duration and Frequency: The program’s duration and frequency can vary but often spans several months. Participants typically attend group sessions once a week and engage in ongoing practice of the skills between sessions.
Outcome Goals: The primary goal of a DBT skills group for adolescents is to help participants develop effective coping strategies, reduce self-destructive behaviors, and improve their overall emotional well-being. The skills learned in the group are meant to be applied in real-life situations.
DBT skills groups for adolescents are beneficial for young people facing a range of emotional and behavioral challenges. They offer practical tools and strategies to help adolescents navigate their unique difficulties and ultimately lead healthier, more fulfilling lives.
About the Group Process
- DBT is a skills group, not a process group. During the first hour of each group session, the group leader will review DBT Diary Cards individually with each group member, providing coaching, feedback, and observations about skills used in an effective way. Group members not only benefit from individual coaching but by being exposed to hearing how other group members are practicing skills.
- The second hour of the group is spent going over new DBT skills. Multiple handouts, homework sheets, experiential exercises, board work, and discussion are used as learning tools. Group members are asked to practice this skill over the week and to give feedback the following week on how the skills worked for them and what challenges occurred.
- All of the DBT skills build on each other. Group members are asked to be able to commit to a total of 6 months before joining the weekly group in order to finish all of the modules (Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation, and Distress Tolerance).
- At the end of each module, we have a parent day where parents and adolescents come together for discussion of special topics and review skills that the adolescents have been learning so that they can support and coach their child in self-management skills.
Using DBT Skills in Everyday Life:
Learning cool skills can help us handle tough situations and have more fun every day! Let’s see how we can use our Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills in different parts of our lives:
1. Mindful Moments:
- Situation: Feeling worried before a big test.
- Application: Take mindful moments by doing “star breathing.” Breathe in as you draw one arm up, and breathe out as you draw it down. Repeat five times to help your mind feel calm and ready for the test!
2. Brave Bubbles:
- Situation: Dealing with a disagreement with a friend.
- Application: Blow a “Brave Bubble” before talking to your friend. Imagine the bubble is filled with courage! When you’re ready, talk to your friend calmly about your feelings and find a solution together.
3. Emotion Explorers:
- Situation: Feeling sad about not being chosen for a game.
- Application: Be an “Emotion Explorer” by drawing a picture of your feelings. Use bright colors for happiness and talk to a grown-up about it. They can help you feel better and find other fun things to do!
4. Friendship Superpowers:
- Situation: Asking to join a game with new friends.
- Application: Use your “Friendship Superpowers” by being G.I.V.E. Smile and say hi (be Gentle), share something nice about your new friends (Act Interested), tell them you understand their feelings (Validate), and use a friendly voice (Easy manner).
5. Mindful Play:
- Situation: Feeling really excited before a special event.
- Application: Play “Mindful Freeze.” When you feel super excited, freeze for a moment, take a deep breath, and keep playing. It helps you enjoy the excitement without getting too jittery!
6. Calming Clouds:
- Situation: Feeling mad after an argument with a sibling.
- Application: Imagine “Calming Clouds.” Take slow breaths and pretend you’re blowing clouds away. Once the clouds are gone, talk to your sibling calmly about how you both feel.
7. Expressing Emotions:
- Situation: Sharing feelings with a grown-up.
- Application: Draw a “Feeling Flower” with petals for different emotions. Show it to a grown-up and explain how you feel. This helps them understand and support you!
8. Team Talk:
- Situation: Asking for help with homework.
- Application: Use “Team Talk.” Tell your grown-up what you need help with (Describe), share your feelings (Express), ask for what you need (Assert), say thank you when they help (Reinforce), and be nice (Mindful). Teamwork makes everything easier!
These fun examples show how DBT skills can be like superhero tools for team, helping them handle ups and downs while having lots of adventures every day!
Admissions & Pricing
For more information about admission into our Adolescent DBT Skills Group, pricing or additional questions, please contact us below:
Four core skill modules in DBT:
- Mindfulness: Describe skills that promote non-judgmental awareness of the present moment. (Observing, Describing, Participating)
- Distress Tolerance: Include strategies for tolerating and surviving crises without making things worse. (Distracting, Self-soothing, Improving the Moment)
- Emotion Regulation: Provide skills for identifying, understanding, and managing emotions effectively. (Identifying Emotions, Opposite Action, Problem Solving)
- Interpersonal Effectiveness: Outline techniques for improving communication and relationships. (DEAR MAN, GIVE, FAST)