How We Treat
DBT-C for Children
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.
The 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.