dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) programs for adolescents and young adults

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Treatment Approach

3East provides a continuum of compassionate and tailored care for individuals with symptoms of self-harm, including cutting and other forms of self-injurious behavior, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and impulsivity. Our programs are best suited for those living with conditions such as borderline personality disorder (BPD), depression (including suicidal depression), anxiety, disordered eating, alcohol or drug abuse, and trauma including complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) stemming from emotional abuse, sexual abuse, child abuse, or other traumatic experiences. We’re here to make a difference in the lives of teens and young adults from across the country and around the world who live with mental illness.

The programs specialize in intensive dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)—a cognitive-behavioral treatment approach that emphasizes the development of four skill sets: mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance. An evidence-based therapy, DBT has been clinically proven to be effective in adolescents and adults with borderline and related personality disorders, along with other co-occurring disorders.

One of the core principles of DBT is the balance of acceptance and change. 3East’s intensive treatment provides the structure to help individuals acquire the skills they need to reduce or eliminate behaviors that are dangerous or are hindrances to self-growth and healthy functioning. Our expert clinicians use validation strategies and cognitive behavioral protocols to help teens and young adults stay committed to treatment as they attempt the challenge of changing well-established behaviors, like cutting or other types of self-harm.

3EastUpon admission to each program, patients receive a thorough evaluation by a highly specialized clinician in consultation with the program medical director. The evaluation may entail discussion of both short- and long-term medication treatment options, preferred therapy modalities, family interventions, transitional care planning, and educational recommendations.

If needed, additional specialty consultations are available for eating disorders, neurology, trauma, educational testing, and attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD). Following the initial consultations, a multidisciplinary team of clinicians and clinical support staff works to identify issues that may support or reinforce a patient’s unhealthy behaviors, factors that may get in the way of more healthy and adaptive behaviors, and consider the individual’s history, personal circumstances, and diagnoses to develop a customized treatment plan for long-term growth.

Components of each program include mindfulness practice, classroom-based DBT skills groups, individual DBT, group therapy, skills coaching, and guidance for parents. At the residential level of care, we also provide case management, medication evaluation and management, milieu therapy, and recreational therapies including yoga, art, music groups, and additional services for parents.

In addition to DBT, the programs also utilize DBT+prolonged exposure (DBT+PE)—an evidence-based therapy that has increasingly become the gold standard treatment for anxiety disorders and trauma. This approach exposes patients to the thoughts, memories, emotions, and settings related to specific traumas, fears, or invalidation and helps them learn to safely re-experience what they had been avoiding until the symptoms begin to diminish. Over time, patients will learn to effectively manage their fears and anxieties, and their symptoms will reduce in intensity.

At 3East, we strive for a balance of structure and flexibility so that our programs are well-rounded and can provide opportunities for individuals to incorporate their new skills into everyday activities. We organize short excursions to bookstores, craft stores, and restaurants, as well as to outdoor areas in nice weather.