Adolescence is a time in one’s life that is filled with difficult lessons, emotional growth, physical and emotional maturation, surging hormones, and a newfound need for autonomy. Children are faced with countless trials and tribulations, many of which they are ill equipped to effectively navigate without support. An adolescent’s brain is not yet fully developed, and though some young people may appear as adults externally, internally they are operating with an underdeveloped pre-frontal cortex. This is the area of the brain that reins rational thought, impulse control, executive planning, and more. Instead, adolescents using the amygdala (area of the brain that governs one’s emotions, impulsivity, emotional behavior, and motivation) instinctively process external stimuli. The fact that young people are often viewed, as hypersensitive, impulsive, wildly emotional beings should come as no surprise. Hence, it is often difficult to distinguish between typical adolescent behavior and child behaviors that may be indicative of larger issues and could benefit from professional guidance. 

What Is DBT

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a psychotherapy that is based off of the principals of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). In the late 1980s, Psychologist Marsha M. Linehan developed DBT to help better treat individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD). It has since been rendered an effective method of treatment for many other mental health conditions (e.g. depression, bulimia, binge-eating disorder, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use disorder, etc.). Further, it is helpful in treating issues related to emotional dysregulation. Emotional dysregulation is a term used within the mental health field to denote irrational, poorly modulated emotional responses. DBT focuses on teaching four core skills: mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and emotion regulation. 

Next Steps

Being charged with the responsibility to safeguard your child’s mental wellbeing could feel incredibly overwhelming, especially when it becomes evident that they are in need of professional support. Fortunately, there are an abundance of highly qualified DBT providers in Los Angeles, California that specialize in treating children. In order to narrow down your options consider the following tips:

  • Ask your child’s pediatrician: request recommendations from your child’s pediatrician.
  • Check out some online sources: many mental health providers have websites available for potential clients to review and/ or are included in an online compilation of reputable mental health professionals, such as:
  • Ask your network of trusted family and friends for references: chances are more people than you are aware of within your network are connected to mental health professionals—tap in and see if anyone can refer you to someone in his or her professional network to work with your child.

Each mental health clinician renders services that are directly informed by his or her personal and professional experiences, education, and personality. Be sure to interview any potential provider prior to making any commitment, as it is essential to make an informed decision. It is important to bear in mind that every young person is unique and will respond distinctly not only to the array of therapeutic modalities available, but also to the variety of mental health providers. 

Disclaimer: 

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.