Trial-blazer

• Lifeline WA CEO Lorna MacGregor. Photo supplied.

A LIFELINE trial that helps teenagers with extreme emotional vulnerability has been so successful it’s been extended.

The DBTeen: mental wellbeing skills group provides up to 12 Cockburn locals aged 14-18 with free access to Dialectical Behaviour Therapy.

“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,” Lifeline CEO Lorna MacGregor says.

The program aims to improve mindfulness, communication and emotional responses in teenagers experiencing difficulties managing their emotions and behavior, she says.

It consists of 12 weekly multifamily group sessions, with phone check-ins and coaching between meetings.

It’s for carers as well as their teenage charges, and they learn the same skills alongside them, Ms MacGregor says.

Key strategies include:

• Mindfulness, staying focused on the present moment without having to react.

• Distress tolerance: coping with distressing situations and painful emotions without making things worse.

• Walking the middle path: balancing ways of thinking and behaving to improve flexibility in responding to common family dilemmas.

• Emotion regulation: developing skills to use when faced with intense and painful emotions.

• Interpersonal effectiveness: communicating needs and wants, improving relationships, and building self-respect in relationships.

Introduced in the late 1980s for people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, DBT has proved highly effective in dealing with a range of emotional issues.

“It can be used to treat conditions like suicidal behaviour, self-harm, substance use, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and eating disorders,” SANE Australia’s website says.

Referrals for the July 22-November 1 DBT program are open and can be made by the patient, a family member or guardian, a GP, school psychologist/counsellor or any other mental health practitioner.

For more information go to lifelinewa.org.au/services/DBTeen or email DBTeen@lifelinewa.org.au

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