Dialectical Behavior Therapy: Helping with Mood Disorders, Anxiety and Depression in Teenage Girls

DBT for depression and anxiety in teen girls | Aspiro Adventure Therapy 

Mood disorders, anxiety and depression can occur in anyone, any age, any gender at any time. There are, however, certain populations that are more at-risk. Previously, we discussed how teenage girls are far more at risk than teenage boys for anxiety and depression. According to the Child Mind Institute, “by mid-adolescence, girls are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with a mood disorder as boys, with the prevalence at adult levels, 14 to 20 percent.”

A highly effective method of treatment for mood disorders, substance abuse, eating disorders, self-injury, suicidal tendencies, anxiety and depression in teenage girls is dialectical behavior therapy. Dialectical behavior therapy addresses the interfering behaviors, and thought processes associated with these diagnoses. This article provides an overview of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, the advantages of this type of therapy in helping teen girls, and introduces Aspiro Clinical Therapist, Jason Capel, a Dialectical behavior therapy expert.

What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy originally designed to help more effectively treat chronically suicidal individuals and those who have borderline personality disorder. Overtime DBT has been adapted, and found effective in treating various mental illnesses, such as, PTSD, eating disorders, substance abuse, and depression. Characteristics of DBT include:

Strong Focus on Therapist-Client Relationship

Therapists provide “homework assignments” and exercises for students to work on, and are very involved in helping students master the skills taught during DBT.

Strengths Based

During DBT, the therapist helps each student identify their strengths and build upon them

Confronting Unpleasant or Negative Emotions Head On

DBT has a strong emphasis on giving up on unhealthy or unrealistic thoughts and beliefs, and replacing them with a different way of thinking. For example, students are encouraged to replace thoughts like “I have to be the best at this skill” with “I tried my best, and I don’t have to be perfect.”

DBT utilizes individual psychotherapy sessions and group therapy sessions to help individuals come to terms with and accept and deal with uncomfortable emotions, thoughts, and reactions rather than struggling with them. DBT helps students to learn to regulate their emotions, and address problems head-on, rather than engaging in problematic behavior and unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as self injury, self deprecation, and substance use/abuse.

There are four modules associated with DBT:

  1. Mindfulness
  2. Interpersonal Effectiveness
  3. Distress Tolerance
  4. Emotional Regulation

How Do Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Wilderness Adventure Therapy Help with Mood Disorders, Anxiety and Depression in Teenage Girls?

In the video above, Jason Capel, Aspiro clinical therapist, discusses how wilderness adventure therapy allows students to interact with others, build on strengths, and practice what they have learned. This is because DBT coincides perfectly with a lot of the principles of wilderness adventure therapy.

Wilderness Adventure Therapy utilizes overwhelming mastery experiences to build on individual’s strengths and increase self efficacy. While during outpatient DBT, individuals are expected to go home and practice the techniques, individuals are faced with new challenges, unpleasant emotions, and unfamiliar experiences daily. This allows students to practice their new learned coping skills daily, but in the unfamiliar surroundings of the wilderness with an experienced guide to help them along their way.

In addition, the therapeutic group living offers an excellent opportunity for young ladies to engage in group therapy with others who are overcoming similar obstacles and learning the same coping techniques. This offers even more opportunities for them to practice the “interpersonal effectiveness” techniques learned during DBT.

Dialectical behavior therapy addresses problematic behavior rather than treating a diagnosis; Wilderness Adventure Therapy helps to reinforce the strength building and the confrontation of negative emotions while teaching young ladies healthy coping strategies. If your daughter is struggling, Wilderness Adventure Therapy and DBT may be the answer your family has been searching for.

To learn more about helping your daughter with anxiety and depression download our white paper below




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