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DBT Pilot Project to Address Teenage Emotional Vulnerability

28 MAR 2019

DBT pilot project to address teenage emotional vulnerability teaser

Lifeline WA will undertake a pilot program to offer skills training to teenagers dealing with severe emotional vulnerability.

The DBTeen: mental wellbeing skills groups for young people and families program is funded by WA Primary Health Alliance to provide 14 to 18 year olds with access to community-based Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT).

DBT is a highly effective form of therapy which combines learning acceptance, while recognising the need for change at the same time.

The pilot project will commence on April 29 and run for 12 weeks.

The Group Sessions will be rolled out in Ellenbrook, Wanneroo, Rockingham and Gosnells and allow for 48 young people and their families to participate.

Lifeline WA chief executive officer Lorna MacGregor said the organisation was hopeful the DBTeen program would make a difference to the lives of program participants.

“Lifeline WA is committed to helping improve access to DBT-based treatment in WA,” she said.

“We know it’s important for young people who are unable to manage intense emotions to have access to effective treatment before it manifests in harmful or destructive ways.”

WA Primary Health Alliance principal advisor and research director Danny Rock said the project was being funded to pilot targeted intervention in a primary care setting.

“DBTeen will build the capacity of GPs and other primary care workers to intervene early and keep young people stable, out of crisis and out of hospital,” Dr Rock said.

Perth resident Carissa Wright, 30, underwent DBT in 2017 but said she wished she had been able to access the treatment at a younger age to help her deal with a borderline personality disorder diagnosis.

“It literally saved my life by giving me the skills to self-manage a life worth living – which isn’t something I thought I’d have,” she said.

“Receiving it when I was younger would have definitely saved me a lot of time and money and helped me transition from adolescence to adulthood a lot more smoothly.”

As part of the pilot program, Lifeline WA will also raise awareness of DBT among youth mental health workers and other professionals.

Lifeline WA and WA Primary Health Alliance facilitated workshops by two of the world’s most pre-eminent experts in DBT for adolescents, Dr Alec Miller and Dr Kelly Graling, in Perth last month.

Referrals for DBTeen are now open and can be made by the young person themselves, a family member or guardian, a General Practitioner, a School Psychologist/Counsellor or any other mental health practitioner.

Referral brochures and forms are available on the Lifeline WA website at https://www.lifelinewa.org.au/Services/DBTeen

Background info:

  • Developed by Dr Marsha Linehan in the 1970s to treat adults and later adapted to suit adolescents by Dr Alec Miller, DBT skills training consists of five skill modules, including mindfulness, emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance and walking the middle path.
  • As opposed to mindfulness therapies which develop acceptance or cognitive behavioural therapies which emphasise the need for change, DBT gives both acceptance and recognition of change equal weight.

Lifeline’s 24/7 telephone crisis support service is available on 13 11 14.