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Teen Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

At Paradigm New York, we draw upon a number of different treatment approaches and modalities, including Teen Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. This approach is categorized as a cognitive-behavioral modality, and focuses on the connections between teens’ Mental Health symptoms with their social interactions and relationships. Originally developed to treat people with Borderline Personality Disorder, this approach focuses on supporting teens that experience extreme mood fluctuations and intense reactions to stimulation, which in turn cause them to remain in a heightened or agitated state. This can lead to teens having difficulty managing both the erratic nature of the moods as well as the behaviors which the moods create. Teen Dialectical Behavioral Therapy focuses on teaching teens’ skills and resources which will help them to manage and navigate their mood fluctuations, in order to be able to make positive life changes, as well as to gain relief from their current symptoms and stress. While DBT has some similarities to Cognitive Behavioral therapy, this approach is less goal-oriented and instead, encourages teens to balance an acceptance of their experiences along with implementation of positive changes in their lives.


One of the benefits of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is it’s sometimes better suited than traditional CBT for teens that are experiencing significant mood fluctuations. This is because for these teens, the highs and lows they’re experiencing often makes it very difficult to identify and pursue goals, in the more regimented way that CBT suggests. DBT often feels more manageable to teens that are suffering from symptoms of things like Anxiety, Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Self-Harm Disorders, and/or Suicidal Ideation. Generally speaking, therapists usually begin working with teens on the most urgent and prevalent issues (such as extreme depression and/or any type of self-harm) and gradually addressing less urgent issues, over time.


Some of the unique aspects of Dialectical Behavioral therapy include: Structuring the Environment, Support Strategy, skills to regulate emotions, Mindfulness, and Dialectical philosophy. Structuring the Environment involves therapists first providing teens with a safe, non-judgmental environment in which they can express themselves, and then also helping teens recognize their power to change their own environments (such as changing peer groups and/or avoiding certain situations.) Support Strategy is characterized by therapists working with teens to focus on their strengths, rather than their weaknesses, and by doing so, to rebuild a positive sense of self. Another aspect of the treatment is therapists working with teens to help them regulate their responses to strong stimuli, which often coincide with their mood fluctuations. Mindfulness is a practice in which therapists assist teens in learning to focus and be aware of themselves and their current environment, in order to be present without judgment. This can be especially useful in both helping to alleviate some of the anxious feelings these teens have as well as to moderate their reactions to certain triggers. And lastly, the Dialectical philosophy is based on the premise of helping teens to both accept themselves as they are, without judgment, and also accept and make efforts toward positive steps and changes in their lives, in order to continue growing, healing, and becoming themselves.


At Paradigm New York, we’re proud to draw upon a wide range of treatment resources and approaches, including Teen Dialectical Behavioral therapy. Paradigm New York provides mental health and substance abuse treatment to teens from New York as well as the rest of the U.S., and designs each treatment plan individually. Paradigm New York is located in Westchester, New York.