Therapist working with teen
Whether you’re looking to support your mental health or the mental health of a child or loved one, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is an effective, evidence-based therapeutic model. 

Living in the moment, tolerating distress, and enjoying meaningful relationships contribute to a happy life. However, these skills are challenging for some and must first be taught. 

Licensed DBT therapists can support children, teens, and adults in managing strong emotions and handling life’s challenges. DBT therapy is a well-known treatment approach that’s effective for many mental health conditions and challenges. 

What is DBT? 

DBT is about creating “a life worth living.” It was originally created to treat clients who were suicidal and/or self-harming, but research has shown it to be quite effective with other populations—including teenagers! 

DBT recognizes the internal struggle we all go through when we want two opposites at the same time. For example, we may want to lose weight, but we also want to eat fast food. We want to get off of probation, but we also want to continue using substances. DBT is about finding and creating balance. To do this, it teaches clients skills within four units to help: 
  • Mindfulness: Drawn from meditative practices, mindfulness helps the client understand the importance of living in the moment or being in the here and now without judging ourselves and others. For example, people with depression often get stuck in the past, and people with anxiety are often stuck anticipating the future. With DBT, we work on being in the here and now. Being mindful is about being aware of what is going on inside of us emotionally, as well as in our outside environment.
  • Distress Tolerance: Learning to cope with distressing challenges or crises is especially difficult for individuals with mental health disorders. Teaching distress tolerance is about learning how to handle stressful and frustrating situations where things don’t go the way we’d hoped, or perhaps when we don’t have a voice in what is happening. Life throws curveballs, right? Distress tolerance is about figuring out what you can and can’t control and how to not sweat the small stuff.
  • Emotional Regulation: Expressing your emotions appropriately is vital, especially in maintaining healthy relationships. Emotion regulation skill-building not only helps individuals identify how they’re feeling but also teaches them to expand their emotional vocabulary. Emotional regulation allows you to feel your feelings without necessarily taking action or trying to change them. It’s about knowing it’s normal and healthy to feel emotions—we just don’t always need to act on them.
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness: Strong, healthy relationships are the hallmark of a happy life. Interpersonal effectiveness is about having a healthy relationship with ourselves and with others. It’s about dealing with difficult people and navigating challenging relationships. Additionally, clients can learn how to get their needs and wants to be met in relationships, as well. 

Effectiveness of DBT

DBT is so effective because it is taught in engaging, interactive, memorable, and fun ways that are catered to the individual’s learning style. Clients are able to practice these skills in sessions as well as in the real world, and then process how it went with supportive, professional help. 

Clients are able to make changes as needed based on practice and experience. At Idaho Youth Ranch, we prefer a DBT skills approach that is youth and family-friendly. 

DBT at Idaho Youth Ranch

With practice and commitment, DBT can be a life-changing therapeutic process for yourself or a loved one. The four modules of DBT are essential for healthy living, as learning to live in the moment, tolerate challenges, regulate your emotions, and promote positive relationships are crucial skills that can be successfully taught to individuals struggling with mental illness. 

Here at Idaho Youth Ranch, we don’t shy away from those who are struggling. We are here for you and want to help. Our team of experts is trained to help youth and families work through mental health challenges. We offer individual, group, and even equine therapy. 

DBT at Idaho Youth Ranch starts with intake and assessments. A typical session usually starts with a short mindfulness and grounding activity before going into skill-building or processing. Treatment typically lasts around six months. 

We are committed to the possibilities that await, and we believe in the profound difference these skills can make in people’s lives. Contact us today to learn more about how DBT can help you or your loved one.

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