An Overview of DBT and Why it is Important For Teenagers

Intro to DBT

Some teenagers struggle with many issues and disorders in their daily lives.

These difficulties make them feel unworthy, develop anger and anxiety issues, withdraw from people, and worry about their future. If your adolescent child faces these struggles, therapy may be the right form of treatment for them.

One of the treatments a counselor may recommend is DBT. 

What is DBT for Teenagers?

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a type of psychotherapy that aims at helping teenagers to control their emotions and conflicts effectively.

DBT does this by assisting them to differentiate what is real and what they perceive in their minds. It is an important therapy for adolescents struggling with addiction, eating disorders, PTSD, and depression. It prepares them for the realities of life rather than the perceptions and expectations in their minds. 

How is DBT Conducted?

Various counselors have various techniques for conducting DBT training.

The training module will always depend on the number of teenagers, assessment and evaluation of the teenager, distance, and the cost of the training. The following are some of the ways a therapist can conduct DBT training for your adolescent child:

1. Skills Group Training

This type of training involves many teenagers grouped in a classroom setting. The therapist teaches them theoretical life skills and later assigns them homework to apply the skills in their daily lives. They then meet regularly and discuss their progress and where they can improve. 

2. Individual Training 

DBT individual training is where a therapist focuses on the specific needs of your teenager. Your teenager will have one counselor solely focusing on them in this module. Individual therapy is suitable for teenagers with life-threatening and therapy-threatening behaviors. The therapist will focus on validation techniques to help your teenager overcome these traits.

3. Phone Coaching

Phone coaching is an on-need-based DBT training where a counselor helps your teenager deal with a difficult situation. The teen may call the therapist when a difficult problem arises and seek guidance. Phone coaching also takes place between other therapy techniques for follow-up and guidance purposes. 

What Skills Will a Teenager Gain from DBT Sessions?

DBT focuses on four critical sets of behavioral skills.

They include:

1. Distress Tolerance 

This skill entails the ability to be tolerant in painful and emotive situations without necessarily having to change the situation. Distress tolerance enables teenagers to relax, withdraw from negative thoughts, soothe themselves, and employ different techniques to control themselves when facing a difficult situation. DBT helps your teen be aware that distressful situations are not permanent and that they can handle them without making the situation worse. 

2. Emotional Regulation

This skill helps teenagers exert control of their emotions rather than being vulnerable to them. Emotional regulations enable an adolescent to think before taking action in difficult situations. It allows them to be calm, reduce anxiety, cope with fear and sadness, and focus on things that distract them from anger. Emotional regulation helps teenagers develop good social skills and avoid taking actions that they regret later. 

3. Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the ability to be aware and focus on the present moments instead of worrying about the future or the past. It helps your adolescent teen feel present and be in charge of what is happening at that particular moment. As a parent, going for DBT sessions with your child enables you to assess and understand their thoughts without judging them.

4. Interpersonal Effectiveness

Interpersonal effectiveness is the ability to build and maintain healthy relationships. Suppose your teen is struggling with trauma and attachment issues. DBT will focus on teaching them how to develop an interest in creating relationships, have empathy for others, and be kind to other people. On the other hand, it also teaches them to stick to their beliefs and respectfully dissent. 

Book an Appointment with a DBT Therapist Today

DBT is an essential treatment for your adolescent child and young adult.

It requires commitment and dedication as a parent, your loved one, and the therapist. At Anxiety Institute, we have a team of committed counselors who will offer advanced treatment to your teenager and enable them to reach their full potential.

Book an appointment with us today!

About the Author

Daniel Villiers, PhD


Dr. Dan brings over ten years of experience working with children, adolescents, young adults and families in a range of clinical and educational settings.

“My personal knowledge and experience of anxiety and fear, as a victim and as a conqueror, has gifted me the valuable asset of emotional intelligence. Knowledge and experience that will give me the empathy to connect with others and the grit to overcome adversity.”

Dr. Daniel Villiers

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