Can DBT Work for Teens?

DBT is one of the most powerful kinds of therapy. It is trusted by professionals across the world and is one of the only kinds of therapy that your health insurance company believes in enough to actually pay for. If you have PPO health insurance like United or Aetna, read on because DBT might be available to your child for little or no out-of-pocket cost.

  • DBT stands for Dialectical Behavior Therapy.
  • It is designed to help people with mental health issues like Borderline Personality Disorder, eating disorders, self-harm tendencies and other forms of intense emotional distress.
  • DBT has been shown to be effective in reducing suicidal ideation that affects about 30% of the population who have a diagnosis on the borderline.
  • How does it work? DBT is a comprehensive form of therapy that has been proven to be one of the most effective in treating borderline personality disorder. It teaches skills for regulating emotions, managing intense feelings, and developing healthy relationships.
  • DBT was first developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan in the late 1980s as a result of years spent studying patients with borderline personality disorder or BPD, which is characterized by intense and unstable relationships, self-harm behavior, emotional instability and impulsivity.
  • The treatment involves skills training groups to teach these tools and individual psychotherapy sessions for more nuanced work. Group therapy plus individual therapy lead to better results when used together. That’s why we do both here at OC Teen Center in Costa Mesa.
  • In DBT, people are taught skills that help them when they have overwhelming feelings. It teaches skills for regulating emotions, managing intense feelings, and developing healthy relationships.
  • DBT studies show that people can learn these skills and that it improves people’s mental health.
  • DBT also teaches a person how to identify the situations where he or she might act impulsively, such as getting into an argument with someone else who disagrees with them.

When you are in a bad situation, you have many options other than just reacting aggressively to what is happening. For example, you can take a time out and come back later. You can do breathing skills to calm your body down when it is reacting too strongly. These options give the person space to make decisions that are not impulsive or reactive in nature.

Learning these tools has also been shown to decrease suicidal behavior because it decreases the severity of negative emotions.

Another area of research focused on what the long-term effects of DBT are.

It was found that people who attended a DBT skills group for an average of five years were less likely to experience depression, anxiety, or suicidal ideation in comparison with those who did not participate at all. This highlights the importance and effectiveness of long term therapy.

DBT focuses first and foremost on self-acceptance before it aims at changing oneself. This has been proven effective when treating problems such as depression, anxiety, anger management issues, eating disorders, and PTSD.

At OC Teen Center, we have have therapists who are experts in DBT. We treat teens age 12-19, and we are one of the few locations in Orange County that treats eating disorders at the outpatient level of care.

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