Children’s Program


2ALearning to effectively manage emotions is one of life’s most important skills. Managing emotions means you learn to not act impulsively on what you feel and to not use destructive actions to feel better, like yelling, hitting, using drugs, or not doing school work.

Managing emotions is a complex task. First you need to know how to identify your emotions. Labeling your emotions currently is an important part of managing them. Research shows that just being able to label your emotions helps decrease the intensity. Labeling requires knowing what emotions feel like in your body and knowing the words that go with those sensations. In addition to labeling  emotions, thinking and seeing clearly the facts of the situation, managing the urges you experience, and having coping skills that work are all part of emotion management.

In our Children’s DBT Program, the skills group teaches emotion regulation skills to both children and parents or guardians. We also teach distress tolerance, interpersonal skills, and mindfulness.  In addition to the skills group, we offer individual and family sessions to help children manage their mood and cope effectively.  We work with children who have emotion dysregulation disorder, depression, anxiety and mood disorders, and behavioral issues.

If you are interested in the Children’s Program, please call 713-973-2800 for an initial appointment.  We have a new session starting February 11, 2014.


DBT Chldren’s Program

Program Description

The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Center Children’s Program is open to children ages 8 to 12 who experience difficulty managing intense emotions to the point that their emotions interfere with their ability to learn in school, enjoy their lives, be effective in social situations, or manage their behavior.  Children who have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorders would be appropriate referrals. Length of treatment varies depending on the needs of each child.

Goals of the Program

Our goal is to decrease suffering and misery that children experience when they are unable to manage their emotions effectively. Not being able to manage emotions affects the child throughout their lifetime in many different ways., including an increased likelihood of adopting destructive ways of coping such as eating disorders, drug use and self-harm, and difficulty learning in school and establishing satisfying relationships.

Some children are born with intense emotions that are difficult to manage. Others may have difficulty managing emotions because of experiences they have had in their lives. Not being able to manage emotions leads to misery for the child and often interferes with their ability to learn, to make friends and in some cases to being more susceptible to bullying, either as the bully or the victim, and violence.

By teaching children how to manage their emotions, we  can decrease the misery of intense emotions and help them learn to think before acting on their emotions. When they are not overwhelmed with their emotions.

Some children are coping well but are more sensitive than other children. The program can help to strengthen identity and self-confidence.

Program Components

The program includes family therapy, individual therapy, a Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills group and coaching calls. Following the intake assessment recommendations will be made as to the best treatment plan for each child.  When indicated, the therapists in the Children’s Program work closely with the school and also with the child’s psychiatrist.

In the DBT skills group, children learn tools to effectively manage emotions. They also learn interpersonal skills and strategies to get through stressful situations.  The group is primarily experiential learning that is fun as well as educational.  To help the children be able to use the skills taught, they will be asked to practice at home and at school.

The program also includes coaching calls for parents. An important part of therapy is for new skills to be used at home, not just in the therapist’s office.  For parents who are in family therapy, they will be encouraged to call their therapist for help coaching their child to use the skills being taught in the group.

In the parent’s group, parents will learn DBT skills to coincide with children’s group. Parents will learn how to use dialectical thinking to better understand ways to manage their child’s emotions, as well as, validation to help calm upset feelings and help the child learn to manage emotions.. In individual and family therapy, the DBT skills learned in group will be reinforced to ensure effective use of skills.

Schedule and Materials

The skills group will meet Tuesday’s at 4pm. Individual and family therapy will be scheduled with the individual therapist. Afternoon, evening, and Saturday appointments are available.

When a family starts the program, they will be given a website that has exercises and information about the skills their child is learning plus additional information that could be helpful. Handouts will be given at each group as well.

DBT Skill Categories

The skills taught in DBT have been proven effective in numerous research studies.  We have adapted those skills for use with children.  In a study done at Yale, the skills were also effective in helping children manage their emotions.

Validation: Learn ways to validate feelings of self and others. Validation will help children develop a strong identity and sense of self worth and is a primary way to help a child effectively manage emotions.

Distress Tolerance: Coping skills to deal with painful emotions to lower impulsive behaviors, such as aggression, depression, and anxiety. Skills include distraction, self soothing, being willing and radical acceptance.

Emotion Regulation: Learn how to manage emotions even when upset and how to express emotions appropriately.  You can regulate emotions in different

Mindfulness: Learn to stay in the here and now to relieve stress and improve health. Mindfulness is about learning to focus your attention, to be able to observe and describe accurately, and to not blame or attack others.

Interpersonal Effectiveness: Learn skills to get along with others and build healthy relationships.

Middle Path: Flexible thinking leads to adaptive problem solving and effective behavior and decreases extreme thoughts that lead to misery.  Flexible thinking, or being able to see different views of a situation, is linked to psychological health and healthy relationships.

What is DBT?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based treatment that is strongly based on cognitive behavior therapy.  In addition to basic cognitive behavioral concepts and strategies, DBT focuses on emotions and on ways to manage emotions. DBT also uses the research on motivation and behavior change to include the most effective ways to bring about behavior change and DBT has the added components of dialectical thinking and mindfulness.  A balance between teaching problem-solving skills and accepting what cannot be solved adds to the effectiveness of the treatment. DBT offers a structured psycho- educational component to teach adaptive coping skills.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy Center

The Children’s Program is part of  The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Center ( The Center has been offering services for over eight years.  A team of ten clinicians offers programs for children, teens and adults.  Karyn Hall, Ph.D. is the director of the Center as well as a DBT trainer with Treatment Implementation Collaborative.  Trained as a child psychologist, Dr. Hall is the co-author of The Power of Validation.  All team members are trained in DBT.

In addition to Dr. Hall, the Children’s Program Staff includes Rebecca Ciatto, LMSW; Kelly Guynes, LCSW; Suzanne Robinson, LCSW and Candice Moore, LPC-I.

To Make a Referral or For More Information

To make a referral, please call or have  a parent call 713-973-2800. If you prefer to use the referral form, our fax is  713-973-3902.  You can call 713-973-2800 if you would like a clinician to call you.


2 Responses to Children’s Program

  1. Dr Rachael Mayne says:

    To whom it may concern,

    I am a clinical psychologist working at an outpatient, child and adolescent mental health service in Auckland, New Zealand.

    My team is currently in the process of developing a ‘child friendly’ DBT program for children and parents. I stumbled across your website today and it looks as though you have a great child DBT program . I was wondering if you have a manual that we could purchase? or any materials available?

    Many thanks,

    09 265 4141

    • admin says:

      Hi Rachael,
      We are in the process of developing a manual but do not have anything ready to share yet. If you have questions we could help you with we’d be happy to do whatever we can.

      Best Wishes

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