DBT Therapy for Teens: How to Improve Life for the Entire Family
By Jeanette Lorandini
You know that your teen needs help.
They’ve been struggling for a while, and it’s been affecting the entire family.
Yet, it can be confusing to know which way is the best path. After all, you want the process to work and ensure that your teen is okay.
One idea is using DBT therapy for teens.
DBT, or dialectical behavioral therapy, is a therapeutic technique that could be just the solution for your teen and the family too.
It’s not just about talking about your feelings (although that is a part of it). DBT is also about learning new skills that will help your teen for years to come.
What Is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy?
DBT is a therapeutic process in which the client learns how to keep in check their emotions or conflict by developing particular skills.
This is helpful for managing a variety of conditions including:
- Bipolar disorder
- Personality disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Bulimia depression
- Substance abuse problems
As you can imagine, these and other mental health conditions are very trying on everyone—including your teen and the family.
One significant benefit is that DBT helps your teen to regain some of the control they’ve lost in life due to their condition.
When you think about it, everyone wants to have a bit of control. The feeling of not being in control—especially of your own life—is powerlessness. Therefore, DBT therapy for teens is an empowering process for both you and your teen.
The Four Parts of DBT Therapy for Teens
There are four parts of DBT therapy for teens, which include:
- Emotional Regulation: Learning how teens can keep their emotions under control and not negatively affect others.
- Distress Tolerance: Being able to cope with negative emotions, instead of running away from them.
- Interpersonal Effectiveness: Learning how to communicate effectively with others so that your teen feels understood, strengthening relationships.
- Mindfulness Techniques: Learning how to focus on the present moment and not dwell too much on either the past or future.
Although talking about one’s feelings is important for therapy, DBT therapy for teens does not limit itself just to talk therapy.
Instead, your teen develops skills that they can use not just with the family but any relationship in their lives.
Why DBT Can Help Your Family
DBT therapy for teens can help your entire family because everyone benefits from it.
For example, during the time frame of learning emotional regulation, your teen can practice this particular skill at home in real-life situations.
Let’s say you and your teen are talking, and you notice that your teen is starting to get heated. Instead of watching the conversation escalate into an emotional meltdown, you can both use the emotional regulation skill to remain calm.
Using the skills acquired in DBT therapy is really a team effort, involving the whole family.
Therapy in Real Life
Perhaps the most exciting thing about DBT therapy for teens is that it easily translates to real life.
It’s not unheard of for teens to complain that therapy isn’t applicable to their lives. Wouldn’t it be better if they could take what they learned from a therapist and apply those skills immediately after the session is over?
This can be especially helpful for those teens who excel at “learning by doing” as it allows them to practice tangible skills in real time.
Debunking the notion that therapy is spinning your wheels or going around in circles, DBT is actionable.
If you are concerned that your teen needs help, DBT therapy could be an option.
It will empower your teen to make changes for themselves instead of having someone else do it for them. Benefiting not only the struggling individual but DBT therapy for teens is also good for the whole family, too.
To get started or learn more about how we can help, please visit DBT for Children.
Suffolk DBT proudly provides quality dialectical behavior therapy, a form of cognitive behavioral therapy, at their offices in Manhattan and Long Island, New York and online. Their experienced NYC therapists specialize in serving teens, children, adults, and college students struggling with depression, borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, and self-harm. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skills and treatment can help you or your kids to manage emotions and work through life’s challenges.