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Dialectical Behavior Therapy Program

teenage boy receiving treatment in a dialectical behavior therapy program from a therapistThere are many kinds of therapies that can help a teen struggling with behavioral challenges or having trouble controlling their substance use. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) helps teens learn to cope with life in the moment and regulate their emotions during times of stress. For more information about teen mental health treatment programs that include dialectical behavior therapy, contact Imagine Nampa today at 888.503.4604.

What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?

Dialectical behavior therapy is a form of cognitive-behavior therapy. It was originally developed to treat people who have borderline personality disorder. DBT was found to be so effective that it was adapted to help people who have other mental health conditions. It is especially effective for:

  • Regulating emotions
  • Coping with stress
  • Addressing self-destructive behaviors like substance use or disordered eating
  • Treating PTSD 

Like cognitive-behavioral therapy, DBT is evidence-based and has been researched thoroughly. Strategies used in DBT are intended to empower patients to improve their relationships and cope with life’s everyday stressors in a healthy way. DBT can be used in both individual and group therapy. 

What Does Dialectical Behavior Therapy Teach?

Core mindfulness is a cornerstone of DBT techniques. Developing mindfulness skills helps teens tune in to what is happening inside (their thoughts, feelings, and impulses) and outside (what they see, hear, and can touch) without self-judgment. Mindfulness practices are effective for remaining calm, even in unusual circumstances, and help teens make clearer decisions based on reality, not panic. 

Distress tolerance is another important skill DBT teaches patients. Distress tolerance provides techniques that teens can use to prepare for and handle intense emotions. 

Interpersonal effectiveness is a DBT technique that empowers teens to set healthy boundaries. Participants learn to listen and communicate with others more effectively. They also learn how to deal with challenges while respecting themselves and others. The acronym GIVE is a sample of interpersonal effectiveness. It stands for:

  • Gentle: No attacking, threatening, or judging other people
  • Interest: Using listening skills to show interest in another person
  • Validate: Acknowledging the feelings and needs of other people
  • Easy: Keeping an easy, light-hearted attitude

The GIVE exercise and other techniques are part of what makes DBT an effective treatment for teens. Concepts are easy to grasp and remember. 

Emotional regulation is the final component of dialectical behavior therapy. Learning to recognize negative emotions gives teens the option not to act on them. Naming emotions helps teach young people that they also have the power to change their emotions. 

Benefits of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

It is natural for teens to need a lot of validation. They are still forming their conception of self and need reassurance. Dialectical behavior therapy provides validation in a therapeutic setting. Receiving validation puts patients into a more receptive state of mind and reduces some of the distress related to change. DBT therapists acknowledge that a person’s choice may have been valid in the moment, which creates a more open environment for discussing other problem-solving options. 


The main benefits of dialectical behavior therapy include:


  • Learning new strategies to accept and change circumstances and accept/change yourself
  • Replacing self-destructive behaviors with healthy, effective behaviors
  • Learning how to change negative and ineffective thoughts
  • Improving communication skills
  • Learning new coping and problem-solving skills
  • Receiving encouragement to recognize one’s personal strengths and feedback on how to use them effectively


DBT does require a commitment of time. It is not a quick cure for destructive behaviors, but it can be effective when patients are willing to fully participate in the exercises. 


Find Dialectical Behavior Therapy in Nampa, ID, at Imagine Nampa

If your teen is struggling with a substance use disorder, impulse control, or other behavioral health concerns, dialectical behavior therapy in Nampa, ID, may be an effective solution. Call the compassionate team at 888.503.4604 to learn about our mental health treatment programs for teens ages 12-17 at Imagine Nampa.