Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Teens

If your teen is struggling with substance abuse or mental health issues, there is hope. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for teens has been shown to be an effective treatment. DBT can help your teen learn how to manage their emotions, regulate their behavior, and connect with others. With DBT, your teen can learn the skills they need to live a healthier and happier life.

Understanding DBT for Teens

What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?

Dialectical behavior therapy is a type of therapy that helps teens learn how to manage their emotions, deal with difficult situations, and develop healthier coping skills. DBT exists on the belief that two opposing thoughts or ideas can exist at the same time, and both be true. By coming to terms with this, adolescents learn to accept themselves for who they are while also changing their behavior. This can be particularly beneficial for parents wondering what to do with a troubled teenager.

DBT was originally developed to help treat people with borderline personality disorder (BPD), but it has since been shown to be effective for treating a variety of adolescent mental health disorders, including substance abuse.
Mother and daughter smiling together, evoking the sense of support and connection emphasized in DBT for teens
Family Enjoying Time Together, Embodying DBT's Connection Goals

Components of DBT

How Does DBT for Teens Work?

DBT for teenagers consists of three main components each of which benefit your child in different ways.
  • Individual therapy sessions: In these sessions, your teen will work one-on-one with a therapist to identify and address their individualized treatment goals. Various DBT techniques and activities will be used to help your child process their emotions, manage stress, and improve relationships.
  • Group skills training: In group skills training, your teen will learn and practice specific DBT skills with other teens who are also in treatment. This allows your teens to continue working on improving interpersonal relationships and learn from teens going through the same things as them.
  • Phone coaching: Phone coaching is available between sessions to provide support and guidance when needed. This allows teens to utilize skills learned in DBT while they are in crisis.

Teen DBT Skills

DBT Skills and Techniques for Teens

There are four main DBT skills that your teenager will learn in treatment. These skills are learned through various DBT activities for teens in individual and group therapy sessions.
Teen engaged in art therapy, part of Key Healthcare's extended care for comprehensive recovery


Mindfulness, also known as Middle Path, is the practice of being present in the moment and accepting thoughts and emotions without judgment. This core skill helps adolescents to stop and think before reacting to a situation, preventing them from making impulsive decisions or engaging in risky behavior.

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Distress tolerance skills help teens cope with difficult emotions and situations in the moment without making them worse. This can include activities such as deep breathing and visualization.

Icon representing one-on-one therapy session, highlighting Key Healthcare's personalized approach to residential teen treatment


Interpersonal effectiveness skills help teens to communicate their needs, set boundaries, and assert themselves in interpersonal relationships. These skills can be especially helpful for teens who are struggling with peer pressure or conflict.

Teen receiving support for depression treatment


Emotion regulation skills help teens to manage their emotions in a healthy way. This can include activities such as identifying emotions, recognizing triggers, and using coping skills.

DBT for Teens by Key Healthcare

Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Teenagers in Los Angeles, CA

Key Healthcare provides DBT for teenagers as a part of our teen treatment programs. Teens will participate in individual and group therapy sessions that utilize DBT to treat their mental health condition(s) and dual diagnosis substance abuse. In addition to these, we also offer a comprehensive residential treatment program for teens that provides a supportive and structured environment for adolescents to overcome their challenges. To learn more about our intensive outpatient, partial hospitalization, residential, and extended care programs, contact us today

A supportive one-on-one therapy session part of a teen's DBT program

Insurances We Accept

Up to 100% of the Costs Covered by Insurance

Key Healthcare works with a majority of health insurance providers and depending on your plan, 100% of the costs may be covered. Verify your insurance to get more information about your coverage.
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