Mental Wellbeing Skills Program Expands to Cockburn After Early Success

01 JUN 2019

Mental wellbeing skills program expands to Cockburn after early success teaser

The early success of a Lifeline WA pilot program offering skills training to teenagers dealing with severe emotional vulnerability has led to the program being extended to include Cockburn.

The DBTeen: mental wellbeing skills groups for young people and families program is funded by WA Primary Health Alliance to provide up to 12 Cockburn residents aged 14 to 18 with free 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.

DBTeen is a free program that aims to improve the mindfulness, communication and emotional responses of teenagers who are experiencing difficulties managing their emotions and behaviours.

The program consists of 12 three-hour multifamily group skills sessions held weekly with phone check-ins and coaching between meetings.

Lifeline WA CEO Lorna MacGregor said the pilot program run earlier this year had been welcomed by the WA health community.

“Lifeline WA is currently helping 25 young people and their families across Perth using DBT in the first stage of this pilot program,” she said.

“We are committed to helping improve access to DBT-based treatment in WA and this cycle of skills training will help achieve that.

“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.”

Referrals for the new DBTeen training running from July 22 through to November 1 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.

Cockburn is one of four areas where the group sessions will be held, with the pilot program also being offered in Gosnells, Wanneroo and Midland, allowing for up to 48 young people and their families to participate.

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.

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

One of the world’s most pre-eminent experts in DBT for adolescents, Dr Alec Miller, ran a series of workshops for Perth youth mental health professionals earlier in the year.

Dr Miller said the combined approach of DBT could succeed where either mindfulness or Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) alone failed.

“DBT blends the acceptance strategies of mindfulness with the change technologies of CBT,” he said.

“It’s saying ‘I’m doing the best I can’ on one hand and ‘I need to do better’ on the other.”

For more information or to refer a patient please visit Lifeline WA’s website or email

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.