So I'm on a Waitlist for Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT):
What to Do While Waiting

If you are reading this, it’s likely that your child or adolescent was added to our Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) wait list. We know firsthand that DBT is a life-saving treatment, and because of that knowledge, we face daily heartache in managing the length of this list. Our aim is to deliver DBT to children, adolescents, and families as soon as humanly possible.

 

IMPORTANT: The problem with any waitlist is that people do just that: they wait. For many folks, this means going a period without the care your family requires and deserves. If you can help it, do not delay mental health treatment, and meet with a provider. Also, do not prematurely end a relationship with your child’s current mental health provider if you are waiting for services at Equilibrium Mental Health. As you will read below, it’s important to assemble a support system while navigating this process.

What's the Hold Up?

 

COVID-19 sparked a unique mental health crisis for our youngsters. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that adolescent emergency room visits for suicide attempts increased significantly during the pandemic (For adolescent females (ages 12-17), there was a 50.6% increase in emergency room visits between February 2019 and February 2021). As you can imagine, the influx of serious mental health needs at the inpatient level impacts other levels of care, including outpatient.

 

We are working diligently to strengthen our ability to provide care for new clients. Your family’s needs are important to us. Do not wait to get the mental health treatment you require. In the meantime, please consider these resources and options as you prepare for treatment:

Equlibrium_Mental_Health_Baltimore_Line_

Assemble Your Support System

The research is clear: an individual’s support system serves as a significant protective factor against serious mental illness and stress. The evidence suggests that support systems can contribute to an individual’s better health outcomes, longer life expectancy, and increased overall well-being. Support systems can be made up of parents/caregivers, siblings, friends, teachers, coaches, and so on. In many cases, members of our support systems can notice our distress before we even do!

 

Consider building your support system by:

  • Volunteering

  • Taking up a sport or joining a gym

  • Participating in a book club

  • Getting to know your colleagues or co-workers

  • Use technology to connect with old friends

Collect Behavioral Data About Your Child’s Problem Behaviors

For specific problem behaviors, be sure to document them. Consider recording key behavioral information such as a description of the problem behavior, what prompting events (triggers) precede the behavior, and the outcomes that follow the behavior. Make note of the dates/times of these behaviors. This will be invaluable information and might help the flow of treatment once started.

Take Parental Mental Health Seriously

It is beyond challenging to manage your child’s daily mental health needs and secure high quality mental health treatment. The process can feel painstakingly slow, and the behavior problems are intense. Consider seeking mental health treatment to help cope with family stressors.

Familiarize Yourself with Excellent Professional Organizations

  1. Suicide Prevention Resource Center: Suicide Prevention Resource Center (sprc.org)
     

  2. American Association of Suicidology: American Association of Suicidology – Suicide Prevention is Everyone's Business
     

  3. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Community programs | AFSP
     

  4. Adolescent Self-Injury Foundation: Help Stop Cutting | Adolescent Self Injury Foundation - ASIF -Help Stop Cutting
     

  5. Behavioral Tech: About DBT – Behavioral Tech
     

  6. DBT-Linehan Board of Certification: DBT®-Linehan Board of Certification - WELCOME (dbt-lbc.org)

Enhance Your Recordkeeping Skills

You and your child have likely been through a lot. You might consider brushing up on your skills as a historian. Start organizing information about your child and family’s mental health needs now. Gather information related to medical and mental health records from other providers (across levels of care: outpatient, inpatient, residential treatment, hospital day treatment, intensive outpatient programs). We also recommend obtaining academic records and developing a positive relationship with your child’s educational team.

Record Behavioral Data About Your Parental Responses

It is evident that a parent/caregiver’s active participation in a child-focused mental health treatment speaks to positive prognosis. To help us develop an understanding of the parent-child relationship, start recording your responses to interactions with your child. What are your responses like in the face of your child’s desirable and undesirable behaviors? Do you use rewards? Praise? Punishments? Avoidance all together? Start documenting information about your interactions and any parental mental health concerns. It matters!

Consult With Your Child’s Current Mental Health Provider or Pediatrician for Safety Planning

Safety plans decrease the probability of a person behaving in risky or life-threatening ways. Although there are great safety planning resources available to the public, we encourage you to engage in safety planning with a professional who knows your child. Professionals to consider might include your child’s current mental health therapist, the school counselor, or your child’s pediatrician.

Start Learning About DBT Now

Whether you are brand new to Dialectical Behavior Therapy, or you are returning to DBT care, it could be helpful to review DBT educational resources. Keep in mind that simply accessing these materials and familiarizing yourself with them is NOT the same thing as psychotherapy/treatment:

 

  1. DBT was pioneered by renowned psychologist Marsha M. Linehan, PhD. Learn more about her Story of Hope.
     

  2. Obtain copies of DBT Skill Workbooks:

 

DBT Skills Manual for Adolescents by DBT experts Jill Rathus, PhD and Alec Miller, PsyD. 

 

DBT Skills Training Workbook by DBT treatment developer Marsha Linehan, PhD.

Books, Resources, and Podcast

Borderline Personality Disorder in Adolescents by Blaise A. Aguirre, M.D. Borderline Personality Disorder in Adolescents: A Complete Guide to Understanding and Coping When Your Adolescent Has BPD - Kindle edition by Aguirre, Blaise A.. Health, Fitness & Dieting Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

 

“To Hell and Back” a podcast by DBT expert Charlie Swenson, PhD: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/a-podcast-with-charlie-swenson-to-hell-and-back/id1321057700

 

Helping Teens Who Cut - Using DBT Skills to End Self-Injury by Michael Hollander, PhD Helping Teens Who Cut, Second Edition: Using DBT Skills to End Self-Injury - Kindle edition by Hollander, Michael. Health, Fitness & Dieting Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

 

The Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child by Alan E. Kazdin, PhD. Amazon.com: The Kazdin Method For Parenting The Defiant Child eBook : Kazdin, Alan E.: Kindle Store

 

The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh. The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation: Thich Nhat Hanh, Vo-Dihn Mai, Mobi Ho: 9780807012390: Amazon.com: Books

 

Parenting a Child Who Has Intense Emotions: Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills to Help Your Child Regulate Emotional Outbursts and Aggressive Behaviors, by Pat Harvey LCSW-C and Jeanine A. Penzo, LICSW Parenting a Child Who Has Intense Emotions: Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills to Help Your Child Regulate Emotional Outbursts and Aggressive Behaviors - Kindle edition by Harvey, Pat, Penzo, Jeanine. Health, Fitness & Dieting Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

 

The Uncontrollable Child: Understand and Manage Your Child’s Disruptive Moods with Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills by Matis Miller, LCSW The Uncontrollable Child: Understand and Manage Your Child's Disruptive Moods with Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills - Kindle edition by Miller, Matis, Beck, Judith S.. Health, Fitness & Dieting Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.