DBT for Teens: Teaching Distress Tolerance, Emotion Regulation, and Interpersonal Effectiveness
- When teaching distress tolerance to adolescents, it’s helpful to first stabilize acute symptoms through concrete, practical crisis management skills, such as distraction, self-soothing, and improving the moment, before teaching more abstract skills, such as radical acceptance.
- When teaching emotion regulation to adolescents, it’s helpful to focus on physical self-care, mindfulness of emotions, and opposite action.
Physical self-care helps clients understand how eating, sleeping, exercise, and symptoms all affect mood states. Mindfulness of emotions helps clients learn to allow their emotions instead of trying to avoid or escape them. Opposite action helps clients learn healthier ways of acting on problematic urges.
- When teaching interpersonal effectiveness to adolescents, it’s helpful to use the DEAR MAN skill for assertiveness, the GIVE skill for maintaining relationships, and the FAST skill for self-respect.
Interpersonal effectiveness especially needs to focus on boundary setting: boundaries with peers, boundaries with social media, and boundaries with emotions.