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Adolescent Dialectical  Behavior Therapy  (DBT) . . .

"Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.."

- Christopher Reeve

AZCFC’s Adolescent DBT Program is the “real deal”, not a watered down version or a DBT “knock off” as some of our clients have described.  This program involves individual therapy at least once a week and the skills training group once a week. (Participants must participate in both individual and skills training group). There is also family component that provides parents and caretakers with specific skills for managing and interacting with clients who are in the program. 

Phase One: 

We begin a new DBT program on the first Wednesday of each month at 5pm-6:30. Phase one lasts for 4 weeks and covers the following goals: 

  1. To increase motivation and implementation of DBT Core Mindful Skills. 

a.  Learn how to complete a DBT diary card daily. 

b.  Identify emotion driven behaviors and the negative effect. 

c.  Understand and implement wise mind decisions daily. 

d.  Practice mindfulness techniques daily. 

Upon successful completion of phase one, clients will be moved to phase two DBT, which meets on either: 

  • Thursday evenings: 5-6:30pm or 

  • Saturdays: 10am-11:30am 

Phase Two: 

Phase two lasts for approximately 6 months and addresses the following goals and objectives: 

  1. To learn and increase ability to tolerate distress and painful emotions 

a.  Define a crisis and learn the different phases 

b.  Understand what an urge is and the negative effects of acting on urges. 

c.  Learn and effectively use crisis survival skills to reduce or eliminate maladaptive soothing.  

d.  Understand and increase willingness to suggestions made. 


   2.  To begin working on acceptance and understanding of dialects to assist with areas to change 

a.  Understand common thinking mistakes. 

b.  Explore concerning vs. typical behaviors for adolescents. 

c.  Eliminating concerning behaviors and increasing effective behaviors.  

d.  Understanding validation and increase self-validation. 

   3.  To learn and be able to increase skills to regulate emotions 

a.  Understand emotions by identifying them and understanding their purpose.  

b.  Reducing emotional vulnerability and increase positive emotions. 

c.  Decrease the frequency of unwanted emotions. 

d.  Decrease emotional suffering.  


   4.  To learn skills to improve effectiveness in interactions with others 

a.  Understanding how to build and maintain healthy relationships.  

b.  Effectively obtain objectives within interpersonal interactions. 

c.  Strengthen and keep self-respect within interpersonal relationships. 

When clients complete phase two, we discuss after care options. 

The program is appropriate for adolescents who are at least 14 years of age up to 17 years. We do not provide these services to adolescents with severe developmental disabilities where such a disability would interfere in their ability to respond to the services provided. We do not provide behavioral health crisis services, however, we do provide our clients with information on how to receive crisis services.  We also provide “phone coaching” which is part of the program.   

The CARES study – a collaboration between UW, UCLA, and Seattle Children’s - has been published. This randomized control trial shows that DBT is effective for reducing suicide attempts and self-harm in highly suicidal self-harming adolescents. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), "The results of this trial support the efficacy of DBT for reducing self-harm and suicide attempts in highly suicidal self-harming adolescents. On the basis of the criteria of 2 independent trials supporting efficacy, results support DBT as the first well-established, empirically supported treatment for decreasing repeated suicide attempts and self-harm in youths". Click here to learn more about this study.

Insurances and payment sources accepted for this program include: Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Some Cigna Plans, AHCCCS, Department of Child Safety and Private Pay.  

You can also learn more about our DBT program on our FAQ's page.

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