Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

for Adolescents

DBT is an evidence-based therapy developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan at the University of Washington utilizing cognitive-behavior treatment combined with acceptance strategies and Zen philosophy.  The DBT Program provides therapeutic services to youth who have experienced suicidal thoughts, actions, and/or self-harming behavior in addition to quality of life-interfering behaviors and interpersonal issues. 


DBT workers take a compassionate view of the client and accept them for who they are, while helping them to make changes and to work towards their personal goals.  DBT treatment ranges from 6-12 months and includes:

• Weekly, individual therapy sessions for the youth

• 20 week skills training group for youth and their caregiver/support person

• 24-hour phone coaching for youth and their caregiver/support person (for help applying skills in real life situations)

• Family counseling, as appropriate

Cost: Assessment & Intake $150.00/Individual Weekly Session $140/Weekly Skills Group $80.00

Goals of the Program:

• To decrease life-threatening behaviors (e.g. self-injurious behavior, suicidal thoughts, threats and/or attempts)

• To increase personal coping skills

• To decrease quality-of-life interfering behaviors (e.g. impulsivity,  abuse, dating violence, substance use, truancy)

• To provide support and education to the caregivers of the adolescents in the DBT  Program


Inclusion Criteria:

• Youth who can consistently get to office for counseling

• Youth between their 13th and 17th birthday


Youth who experience several of the following:

o Life-threatening behaviors

o Quality-of-life interfering behaviors

o Recurrent suicidal thoughts or attempts

o Difficulty in interpersonal relationships

o Frequent mood swings

o Intense fear of abandonment

o Sense of emptiness or confusion about self

o Family conflict

Exclusionary Criteria:

• Youth who are actively suicidal, homicidal or in need of crisis stabilization

• When the safety of the worker cannot be ensured


Referral Sources:

• Mental Health Services for Children and Youth

• Community Agencies 

• Hospitals

• Youth Justice Services

• Schools

• Department of Child Services/Choices, Inc.


An email will be sent to the Community indicating an opening(s) in the DBT Program, with referrals being accepted over a two week period. 


Referring workers are asked to phone the DBT Program Supervisor, Lynell W. Gates to complete a short screen to confirm the clients’ suitability for the DBT Program.  If the candidate meets the referral criteria, the DBT referral package will be sent to the referring worker. 


The completed referral package is then sent back to the DBT Program Supervisor.  Once the two week period has elapsed, candidates must wait 6-7 weeks before their referral will be reviewed for admission/screening. 


Referral sources will be notified by the DBT Program Supervisor as to the outcome of the screening.  Selected candidates will be contacted by a DBT therapist to begin treatment.


The DBT Program Supervisor is available to answer any questions you may have regarding the referral process or program criteria.