Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a skills-based approach that teaches children how to better manage emotions and life. Our DBT group is unique in that both children and parents participate. Each week, children work together to learn specific skills, while parents are in a separate group learning how to support and practice their child’s growth.

What is Diablectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?

DBT was originally developed using cognitive-behavioral techniques and mindfulness for adults who suffered from extreme emotions and maladaptive thoughts and behaviors. A common theory supporting DBT is that we begin forming inaccurate beliefs about the past, unrealistic expectations about the present, and unattainable desires for the future which results in emotional distress and inappropriate behaviors.

Dialetical is a method of developing skills to resolve conflicts and DBT is based on a theory to teach clients to accept themselves while simultaneously working toward change. The focus is building self-awareness, increasing nonjudgmental observations of surroundings, and decreasing impulsive responses.

The primary goal is to identify and work towards changing patters that increase stress and suffering. DBT has been shown to strengthen an individual's ability to cope with stress across several populations, including adults, teens, and children addressing symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, ADHD, and behavior problems.

QEEG Brain Mapping is a diagnostic procedure that records electrical activity in the brain. Most people are familiar with the EKG that represents the electrical activity of the heart. EEG represents the electrical activity of the brain. It serves as a basis for identifying variations in brain function that are associated with different types of neurological disorders including Attention Deficit Disorder, Learning Disabilities, Depression, Dementia, Mild Head Injury and Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder. This electrical activity can be recorded by using sensors placed on the scalp and feeding it back on a computer monitor. Brain mapping provides a more objective and accurate diagnosis and provides more detailed information on any brainwave imbalance. This brain map helps guide the neurobiofeedback training.

Four Primary Skills Used in DBT with Children and Adolescents

  1. Mindfulness - Used to create a stable base for the other DBT skills. Practiced for over twenty-five hundred years by Buddhists, mindfulness incorporates the practice of meditation to aid in acceptance of emotion and self-regulation.

  2. Distress Tolerance - focuses on building resiliency and learning new tools for coping with upsetting situations, while also reducing impulsive and counter productive behaviors.

  3. Emotion Regulation - skills help build awareness of emotion without getting overwhelmed by it.

  4. Interpersonal Effectiveness - provides new tools to express beliefs and needs and negotiate solutions to problems to reduce interpersonal conflict and stress.

DBT for Children

Mindfulness skills have demonstreated to be effective at decreasing anxiety and stress in school-aged children. Mindfulness-based group uses activities and stories which are a focus of teaching and practicing the skills. Research demonstrates that children taught mindfulness-based skills show reductuons in emotional and behavioral problems and improved academic functioning. Goals include building awareness of thoughts, feelings, and sensations.

DBT for Adolescents

Most DBT programs for adolescents include an individual and group component. The DBT skills are often described and practiced in the group setting while personal issues or struggles are reviewed in the individual therapy setting. Adolescents with extreme emotions may require outside coaching of the skills via a phone session. Goals include focusing on the present, building healthy skills for processing emotions, and building positive relationships.

DBT for Families

Mindfulness has alos been applied to parenting practices to help build coping through acceptance and promoting change. Skills focus on learning new ways of interacting with teens to change dysfunctional behaviors and emotional outbursts, which have been demonstrated to be highly effective with this specific population. The effectiveness of DBT skills are significantly increased when parents are alos practicing them. Additionally, objectives with adolescents include building a balance (example: autonomy and dependency). Thus, parents' invlovement can strengthen and reinforce the use of skills. The family can become involved in DBT skills through a parent group or family-focused intervention.

The following DBT services are provided at the Tarnow Center in the Galleria and Sugar Land Locations:

  • Mindfulness-based Child Group Therapy (ages 9-12)

  • Adolescent Group Therapy (ages 13-17)

  • Parent Support Groups

  • Family Therapy

  • Individual Therapy

  • 24-hour Coaching

For more information and availability:

Please contact Dr. Melissa Gonzalez at 713-621-9515, ext. 403 or by email at: drgonzalez@tarnowcenter.com

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