Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an evidenced based treatment originally developed to treat adults (primarily women) with Borderline Personality Disorder who have a distracting array of difficulties including intentional and potentially life threatening behavior, all or nothing thinking, and negative and/or grandiose identity stemming from emotional disregulation. Over the years, Cutchins Programs has helped develop DBT for adolescents and families. DBT is now an empirically based treatment used to support adolescents with severe emotional and behavioral challenges.
As a team and skills based treatment, DBT has developed variety of tools to assist adolescents and their families reach achievable emotional and social goals. These team based skills processes include:
- Distress Tolerance skills to avoid impulsive behaviors
- Emotional Regulation skills to develop healthy habits of living according to individual’s own goals
- Interpersonal Effectiveness skills to manage peer and adult relationships
- Mindfulness skills to develop a stable identity capable of managing strong negative emotions
Cutchins uses a traffic light to explain the treatment approach. When adolescents and their families first come to Cutchins they often feel in constant crisis (RED), with occasional relief from crisis (GREEN.) The goal of treatment is to have clear Crisis Protocols established, a Proactive Plan (YELLOW) of pre-scripted skills, and to be able to experience the intensity of emotion in the service of their own set of pro-social goals (GREEN.)
Cutchins is a leader in rigorous DBT treatment for children and adolescents and has adapted Distress Tolerance Plans and Family Skills Plans that are used widely including in residential treatment, juvenile justice situations, and family and school settings.