Are Things At Home Feeling Out Of Control?
Does your teen struggle with. . .
- coping with difficult emotions?
- managing distress?
- navigating interpersonal relationships?
If so, teen DBT might be the right choice for your family. DBT is an evidence-based treatment that can improve an adolescent’s ability to manage distress, regulate their emotions, and function effectively in their relationships.
The Teenage Years Are An Emotional Time
Let’s face it – being a teen is tough. Bodies and minds are changing, social and academic pressures are at an all-time high, and we often see our teens struggling with emotion regulation during this time. It might feel like your once agreeable and stable child is now sullen, isolative, or combative.
It’s not surprising that we see a lot of mental health issues at this age. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 49.5 of adolescents have struggled with a mental health disorder at some point in their lives. Anxiety is the most common, with 32% of teens meeting criteria for an anxiety disorder. Depression is less common, at 13%, yet according to the CDC, more than 1 in 3 high school students experiences persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, and about 1 in 6 youth reported making a suicide plan in the past year. Other common concerns among adolescents include eating disorders, alcohol/substance use disorders, and ADHD.
Just like in adults, teen mental health issues are serious and can be potentially life-threatening. Early intervention is best. At Gatewell, our DBT therapists will equip your teen with the skills they need to function more effectively.
Teen DBT At Gatewell Therapy Center
Our online DBT skills groups are six-month comprehensive programs. Attendance for the full six months is required in order to reap the benefits demonstrated from DBT skills groups in research and clinical settings. Members can participate in comprehensive DBT treatment at our center (skills group + individual therapy + phone coaching) or can join the group as a standalone treatment* or adjunct to their external individual therapy.
The groups meet on Thursdays at 4:30pm. Our program is open to teens all over Florida and meets via Zoom. The group fee is $75. We are able to bill Aetna, United, Optum, and Oscar directly. If you’d like to learn the skills yourself – to facilitate your teen’s learning and to expedite improvements in your relationship with them, we offer a 10-week companion course for adult caregivers. Our online DBT skills groups are six-month comprehensive programs.
What To Expect With Teen DBT
To start our program, your teen will be seen for an individual, consultation session first to make sure the group is a good fit. We’ll get a sense of your teen’s struggles and any background information that is helpful to understanding their current functioning. We’ll meet with you too to get a sense of your observations and concerns. And then we’ll be able to decide if the group makes sense for your teen.
Our Teen DBT Curriculum
In Gatewell’s teen DBT skills group, your teen will learn:
1) Core Mindfulness Skills: Mindfulness is at the heart of DBT. In this module, your teen will learn how to focus their attention and thinking. Mindfulness will teach your teen to be more present and effective in their life.
2) Emotion Regulation Skills: Adolescence can be a particularly emotionally turbulent time. This module helps your teen gain increased awareness and understanding of their emotions. They’ll learn what they’re feeling (and why) and how to ride out those strong emotional waves.
3) Distress Tolerance Skills: These skills help your adolescent cope with crisis situations without making them worse. Your teen will learn how to accept certain realities and how to weather life’s storms. If your teen struggles with knowing what to do when facing challenging experiences and when flooded with difficult emotions, distress tolerance skills can help.
4) Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills: Here, your teen will learn how to interact with others more effectively. These skills provide a playbook for some of those difficult interpersonal interactions that creep up at home, at school, and in other contexts. Here, teens learn how to assert themselves and their boundaries in a skillful way. The interpersonal effectiveness module also teaches listening and communication skills, how to make and cultivate friendships, and and how to end toxic relationships.
5) Walking the Middle Path Skills: In this module, your teen will learn how to think and act dialectically. In other words, they’ll learn how to balance competing thoughts and feelings and how to choose effective action based on potentially competing needs. They’ll learn how to validate others and themselves and they’ll also learn how to increase skillful behaviors and decrease behaviors that aren’t serving them well.
But You May Still Have Concerns About Starting One of Our DBT Skills Groups. . .
Why is your program 24 weeks? I’ve seen some DBT groups that are only 8 or 10 weeks long.
Our program is longer than others because we include the full, evidence-based curriculum. We’d rather offer a treatment that’s been proven to work in multiple studies than a watered-down version we’re not sure will have any significant impact. Still, if you’re unsure if the time commitment will work for you, there are shorter duration groups that might be more appropriate for your family.
Why are your groups online? I think my teen would benefit from an in-person group.
Like many people realized during the pandemic, telehealth is an easy, accessible alternative to in-person therapy. And research shows that remote therapy is just as effective to that which is provided in person. We enjoy being able to offer our groups to teens in various locations and those with other commitments. And for many of our families, it’s easier to turn on the computer for 60 minutes than to run around town, negotiating traffic and parking, while balancing homework, dinner, and the needs of other children.
I’m worried my teen won’t share at all in the group. I think they might shut down.
That’s always a possibility, but we do think that being in a group can help draw people out. We purposely make our groups only an hour to help compete with shorter attention spans. We use creative and interactive mindfulness practices at the beginning of each session to help engage your teen. And if you still find that their participation is a challenge, we’re happy to do some problem solving around that.
Help Your Adolescent Thrive With Teen DBT
Adolescence is a challenging time. Teens can struggle with emotional instability, behavioral difficulties, and mental health concerns. But they don’t have to navigate this trying time alone. DBT skills provide teens the tools they need to live their lives more effectively.