The following describes many of the challenges facing the youth who come to Project Patch: Drama, isolation, chaos, loneliness, depression, poor grades, very poor family relationships, sexualized behavior, experimentation with drugs and self-harm (such as cutting). Over the years, Patch staff have observed five key areas that need to be addressed to help kids stabilize:
Confusion about self – who they are and what they want
Impulsivity – not considering cause and effect of their actions
Emotional instability – constant drama and negative attention-seeking behavior
Interpersonal problems – attracted to negative, destructive relationships
Parent-teen problems – contstant family power struggles
What is DBT and what does it do?
Dialectical Behavior Therapy, or DBT, is a comprehensive treatment approach for people whose emotions create major problems in their lives (and perhaps in the lives of people around them). These emotions may be expressed in a destructive way – angry outbursts or depression – or avoided by behaviors such as suicide attempts, substance abuse, eating disorders, or impulsive actions.
What do teens using DBT accomplish?
DBT clients learn more skillful ways of regulating their emotions, dealing with the distressing situations in their lives, and improving relationships. These skills are taught in caring treatment relationships that appreciate the clients’ strengths, acknowledge their emotional sensitivity, and offer powerful, pragmatic methods for creating a life worth living.
How does Project Patch use DBT?
Patch staff coaches clients on how to be responsible for their emotions. For example, often when a client receives a distressing phone call, the client becomes angry and perhaps yells at either staff or other clients. Using DBT coaching techniques, the staff help the client find a healthy alternative such as keeping a journal, listening to music, or taking a hot shower to bring the emotional level down. Once emotions aren’t creating havoc, the staff and client then focus on the source of the problems of why the phone call was so upsetting.
How can parents utilize this training?
The parent component to DBT focuses on helping parents coach their teenager on self-care and regulating their emotions, which improves communication and lessens power struggles.
Is a successful DBT client considered “cured” of previous negative behavior?
DBT is not a fix-all; however, it does empower young people with skills that they can take home. DBT is a treatment approach which has been shown to be effective in residential settings and has wide therapist recognition and support. Most importantly, we have watched as kids use the skills to avoid negative behaviors and build strong, positive relationships.