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How We Treat

Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Children (DBT-C)

DBT-C adapts the principles of Dialectical Behavior Therapy in a way that is appropriate to a child’s level of development and cognitive abilities. 

DBT-C treatment is specifically designed for pre-adolescents who have trouble regulating intense emotions and therefore tend to act impulsively, overreact to situations, resist change, think in absolutes, and lash out verbally or physically when they are emotionally overwhelmed.

Their inability to cope with their big emotions or calm themselves draws attention from the adults and peers around them, which reinforces the unwanted behavior without addressing or validating the underlying emotional needs that led to the behavior. The pattern becomes cyclical, which further emotionally destabilizes the child and further exacerbates his, her, or their caregivers.

How is DBT-C Different from DBT?

While DBT-C includes the core elements of adult DBT, it differs in two significant ways. For starters, the treatment includes extensive training for parents, teaching them (typically in group settings) many of the same mindfulness and communication skills being taught to their children in therapy.

The goal is to provide a structured path that helps caregivers model and reinforce effective emotion regulation at home. Second, the individual treatment for the child includes child-friendly materials (such as cartoons or videos) and activities (such as role playing) to help the child engage and connect with the therapist.

How Children Overcome Challenges with Adapted DBT-C

For pre-adolescent children living with severe emotional dysregulation, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a proven method of helping them to better manage their emotions and develop healthy skills. With the help of specialized counselors and an accepting environment, DBT-C (Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Children) is designed to provide personalized strategies to empower these young individuals in overcoming obstacles.

It offers a safe space for pre-adolescent children to build self-confidence, self-worth and resilience, which are essential for achieving long-term success. We strive to create an atmosphere that helps them grow positively and view life’s challenges in a more constructive way.


Features and Benefits of DBT-C


Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Children (DBT-C) is a specialized form of DBT, tailored to help pre-adolescent children aged 8 to 12 years old manage their emotions, develop healthy skills and build resilience. This therapeutic approach focuses on the developing minds of pre-adolescents, providing individualized strategies and guidance to empower them in overcoming obstacles they face.

It provides an accepting environment where they can feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings without judgement or criticism, allowing them to learn techniques for regulating their emotions and building self-confidence. By teaching key mindfulness exercises and positive coping mechanisms, DBT-C helps these young individuals prepare for adulthood with emotional stability and long-term success.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) are both evidence-based approaches used to treat mental health issues. While both involve cognitive restructuring, DBT is a more comprehensive approach that works on developing behavioural skills, regulating emotions and understanding interpersonal relationships.

Studies have shown that DBT is effective in helping patients with severe emotional dysregulation such as anxiety, depression, self-harm, addiction and eating disorders. As opposed to CBT which only focuses on cognitive restructuring, DBT provides a holistic approach to mental health treatment. This has proven to be particularly effective for pre-adolescent children, which is why specialized Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Children (DBT-C) has been developed.

Yes, Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Children (DBT-C) can be very beneficial for people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It has been found to help reduce negative behaviors associated with the condition such as impulsiveness and difficulty in self-regulating.

The central principles of mindfulness and emotion regulation taught through DBT help individuals better manage their attention span and executive functioning deficits that may accompany ADHD.. Furthermore, it offers them an understanding of their disorder, providing skills to manage their daily lives more effectively.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Children (DBT-C) is a valuable therapeutic approach tailored to address a wide range of emotional and behavioral struggles that adolescents and pre-adolescents often face (ages 8 to 12 years old). 

It is particularly effective in helping individuals cope with intense emotions, impulsive behaviors, self-harm tendencies, suicidal thoughts, and traits associated with borderline personality disorder. DBT-C equips young people with practical skills to regulate their emotions, improve interpersonal relationships, and navigate complex life situations.

This therapy offers crucial support for those grappling with these challenges during the critical phase of adolescence, aiding them in achieving emotional stability and a better quality of life.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Children (DBT-C) share a foundation in the principles of mindfulness, emotional regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and distress tolerance, but they differ in their target demographics and adaptations. 


DBT is designed primarily for adults dealing with complex emotional issues, such as borderline personality disorder. In contrast, DBT-C is specifically tailored for adolescents and pre-adolescents, typically aged 8 to 12 years old, who face unique challenges related to emotional regulation, impulsivity, self-harm, and the tumultuous nature of adolescence. 


While both therapies aim to enhance emotional well-being, DBT-C incorporates age-appropriate strategies and interventions to address the distinct needs of younger individuals during a critical phase of development, making it more suitable for this age group.

DBT-C distinguishes itself from adult-oriented DBT through the following areas:

  • Comprehensive Parent Training:

In DBT-C, an integral aspect is the training provided to parents. We aim to equip parents with the knowledge and tools to effectively address their child’s challenging responses.

Parents play a pivotal role as coaches, instilling the same skills their child learns during therapy into their everyday routines. This approach encourages a supportive and consistent environment at home, crucial for the child’s progress.

  • Child-Centric Individual Therapy:

Our DBT-C therapy sessions for children are thoughtfully created to be engaging and highly effective. We apply child-friendly materials like cartoons and videos, as well as interactive activities such as role-playing, to ensure that your child can connect with the therapeutic process in a meaningful way. These methods not only make therapy enjoyable for your child but also aid in the comprehension and internalization of the skills being taught.

We Can Help.

If you or a loved one can benefit from Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Children (DBT-C), we are here to help.