Evidence-based, Model-adherent Residential DBT Program for Adolescents

ATLANTA – The Skyland Trail adolescent clinical treatment team has completed intensive dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) training with Behavioral Tech, the organization founded by Dr. Marsha Linehan, creator of DBT.

Dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT, is an evidence-based modality appropriate for adolescents with emerging borderline personality disorder traits. While clients admitting to the adolescent residential treatment program at Skyland Trail must have a primary diagnosis of a mood or anxiety disorder, many clients also have co-occurring diagnoses, including emerging borderline personality disorder traits, PTSD or a history of trauma, or mild to moderate substance use disorder.

DBT may be appropriate for adolescents experiencing emotional dysregulation, patterns of impulsive or maladaptive behaviors including self harm, unstable relationships, or instability in their sense of self or identity.

The Skyland Trail intensively trained adolescent DBT treatment team meets weekly to discuss complex client cases and to develop comprehensive strategies to help clients progress. Across the organization, the multidisciplinary treatment team, including residential staff members, receive ongoing training on how to support DBT clients.

The Skyland Trail adolescent residential treatment program adheres to the DBT model created by Dr. Marsha Linehan and Behavioral Tech, with some adaptations for adolescent residential program delivery. As part of the DBT model, residential counselors provide 24/7 in-person DBT skill support, and clients have access to DBT phone coaching 24/7 from clinical on-call staff.

Adolescent clients are assigned to one of two primary core tracks – DBT skills or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) skills – based on their diagnoses. All clients also participate in family therapy and ecological systems therapy. Structured weekly schedules also include individual sessions with the psychiatrist, medication management (if applicable), individual sessions with the primary therapist, behavioral activation, fitness and active living, expressive therapies, check-ins with the wellness clinic and primary care physician, and sessions with the dietician.