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The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) asserts that in the United States “at least one in five youth aged 9-17 years currently has a diagnosable mental health disorder that causes some degree of impairment; one in ten has a disorder that causes significant impairment.” Many young people go through a plethora of physical, social, and behavioral changes throughout one’s adolescence. It can, therefore, be somewhat challenging to detect a mental illness in a young person. Additionally, there are a number of different types of mental health disorders that can affect an adolescent. Fortunately, there are a variety of treatment options available in Southern California for adolescents that have mental health disorders, including psychotherapeutic modalities such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). 

DBT Overview

Dialectical behavior therapy is an evidence-based psychotherapy that is founded on the principals of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). In the 1980s, Marsha M. Linehan developed DBT as a means to treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). DBT places primary emphasis on the psychosocial aspect of treatment. It is comprised of three distinct components: weekly individual psychotherapy sessions, weekly group DBT skills training sessions, and as-needed phone coaching. The four main modules that are focused on and taught during the group DBT skills sessions include:

  • Core mindfulness: teaches focusing skills to enable an individual to be fully present in any given moment.
  • Distress tolerance: teaches survival skills to help an individual learn to increase his or her tolerance of negative emotion, instead of trying to avoid or escape it.  
  • Emotion regulation: teaches de-escalation skills to enable a person to identify, understand, fully experience and de-escalate his or her emotions without instinctively reacting to them. 
  • Interpersonal effectiveness: teaches social skills to help an individual learn to communicate with others in an assertive, self-respecting way that simultaneously strengthens relationships. 

Since its inception, dialectical behavior therapy has not only become and continues to be the gold standard for treating individuals with BPD, but has also become known an effective treatment method for other mental health disorders (e.g., depression, bulimia, binge-eating disorder, bipolar disorder, substance use disorder, etc.).

DBT Workbooks for Adolescents

There are a variety of published DBT workbooks that cater the adolescent population. Commonly used DBT adolescent workbooks include, but are not limited to the following:

Each of the above examples of DBT workbooks for adolescents are both widely available and easily accessible. Dialectical behavior therapy encourages adolescents to take an active role in the treatment process, and by working in a DBT workbook participants are left with a tangible and personalized resource. New DBT workbooks with additional resources, exercises, and/ or worksheets continue to be published regularly. 


The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

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