Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) has been on the rise in curriculums across the United States due to the overwhelming amount of research findings that suggest there was an extreme lack in Social-Emotional awareness that has affected student success rates (Gueldner et. al. 2020). Do not make the mistake of letting the importance of mental health pass you by; mental health can make or break student success, depending on how it’s managed, talked about at home, and prioritized. As SEL integrates into school curriculums, it’s integrating into college admissions radars as well. College admissions are always looking for extra curricular activities, but now when looking at your child’s application, they may ask themselves if your child has done anything that demonstrates their ability to maintain social and emotional awareness in their social interactions. Have they? That lengthy list of extra curricular activities may still get your child in the college of their dreams, but a lack of emotional awareness can be the game changer that drives them back home.
DBT, easy as 1-2-3
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) serves as a key component in SEL. DBT is an evidence-based approach that has been shown to help individuals of all ages with building skills around emotional regulation, acceptance of hard situations, and navigating change. This allows us to recognize and respect the feelings of ourselves and others, while responding to them in a rational manner. DBT skills are beneficial in helping children make decisions based on a healthy balance of emotion and logic. Local mental health group practice, Wholehearted Healing Collective offers a wide-range of DBT groups including those for children, teens, and adults. During these 8-week programs, participants can expect to learn these skills and ways to implement them into everyday life, to make surviving the extra difficult days even just a bit easier.
Wholehearted Healing Collective’s Child and Teen DBT-informed group curriculums are created to teach members skills, while discussing real-life scenarios. All of our 8 week programs consist of six sessions for the child or teen and two sessions for the parents. Caregiver sessions are designed to help those in a parent role learn the skills associated with DBT to better communicate at home. Incorporating parent sessions provides tools for parents to support themselves AND their children in skill-reinforcement during and after the group has been completed.
Interpersonal effectiveness is one of the modules of DBT which will help relationships in the family and outside of it. How do our children and teens become advocates for their own needs, while simultaneously being mindful of the needs of others? Interpersonal effectiveness skills help practice a balance of the two, which ultimately helps build healthy relationships – amongst peers, coaches, teammates, teachers, family members – during a time of many transitions.
Setting a foundation of skills for adulthood, DBT-informed groups help prepare for a future of more effective communication, emotion-regulation, and acceptance of things out of our control. DBT theory does this by focusing on reducing self-destructive behaviors and developing productive ways to manage uncomfortable emotions. Children are naturally curious, so it would be advantageous for them to be encouraged to aim their curiosity towards their inner feelings. Such as by asking questions like, “What about this situation is hard for me?” and, “What message are my emotions trying to send me?,” members will be guided in identifying and managing stressors, working through “big” emotions.
We got you, parents
In addition to the social-emotional learning of children and teens, DBT is especially beneficial for adults who fill parental roles. DBT offers mindfulness techniques that help parents focus on the present and attend to what is happening in the here and now in a reasonable, productive manner. Mindfulness helps us slow down and focus on doing what is needed to care for ourselves in the moment, to then proceed with more helpful action. The emotion regulation module can help teach parents techniques to decrease the intensity of their feelings to be more responsive rather than reactive towards their children or teens. DBT explores how to tolerate negative emotions through the distress tolerance module. This module teaches parents ways to self-soothe when feeling upset, instead of becoming overwhelmed by the emotion or avoiding them. This allows parents to make wise decisions about how to navigate unpredictability versus falling into the intense, desperate and often-destructive emotional reactions.
As a parent, typically high expectations of our children or teens stem from simply “wanting the best for them.” However, sometimes parents have unrealistic expectations that come without considering the child’s own thoughts and emotions in the situation. The last module, interpersonal effectiveness, provides caregivers the skills to learn what their needs are as well as their child’s.
Imagine this –
Your teen comes home after school, drops their backpack on the floor, and sits in their go-to couch spot to scroll Tik Tok.
Your parent inner monologue says, “Something definitely happened today, but if I ask, I’ll be ripped apart.” The immediate reaction is to avoid connection in fear of your teen’s response. However, what if we told you DBT-skills help provide the tools to connect with your child, while building a healthy relationship? They do just that.
This involves respecting one another, listening, and communicating effectively, managing difficult behaviors, repairing relationships, and being able model accountability for our actions. Parenting is not an easy job and there are no set guidelines to parenting. DBT can teach caregivers a new skill set and provide support in a healthy and effective manner.
Wholehearted DBT programs are offered virtually and in-person, throughout the week. In-network with most major insurances, our administrative team is ready to assist you in starting your family journey, on the road to better communication, emotion control, and overall tolerance of those “less predictable” situations.
Group Therapy Practice