Ep. 116: How Dialectical Behavior Therapy Helps Children and Teens with Patricia Gieselman, MFT

Jan 17, 2023 | 0 comments

Parents have recently reached out with questions and topics they’d like to hear more about. One commonality these topics have is the child or teen who is struggling with emotional regulation. That may be anger, defiance, or communication problems. So in today’s episode, we’re starting to explore different treatment options in the hopes of providing information to families. Today’s focus is on Dialectical Behavior Therapy or DBT.

Our guest on this topic is an expert in the field. Patricia (Patty) Gieselman, MFT is the founder and Executive Director of Choices Counseling & Skills Center, which specializes in this type of behavior therapy. She has tons of experience working with adults, adolescents, children, and their families using this approach.

In our conversion, she explains why it is important to provide youth with skills and strategies that improve their ability to manage their emotions and give them the tools needed to accept those parts of their life that cannot be changed. This model is unique in many ways and in Patty’s experience, extremely impactful and successful.


Show Notes:

[3:43] – Patty is an expert in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and explains how and why it was developed.

[4:41] – DBT is Cognitive Behavior Therapy and zen practice combined.

[6:02] – The goal is to bring together acceptance, validation, and change. DBT treats problem behaviors that are caused by emotional dysregulation.

[7:18] – The DBT model includes multiple components, broken up into skills groups and individualized therapy.

[9:03] – There is an adaptation of DBT for children. Children are sensitive and easily reactive to the world.

[10:23] – A part of DBT is a family component that gives parents the skills to create an environment that is validating to the child.

[11:15] – DBT for Children has a child component, a parent component, and a parent/child component.

[13:35] – Parents are also given the skills to manage their own emotional dysregulation. 

[14:41] – Patty lists some of the behaviors that are treated by DBT. But the goals for DBT for Children are different from those for adults.

[16:31] – A specific diagnosis is not the focus of DBT, but rather the behaviors that impact daily life.

[18:28] – In the beginning of DBT for Children, there’s an assessment period to help parents triage the problem that impacts their relationship.

[20:26] – Through the multi-family skills groups, parents have the same assignments and activities as their children.

[22:29] – Patty describes DBT as mindfulness that has been behavioralized.

[24:06] – Through the process, Crisis Survival Skills are also taught to help children.

[25:46] – We all have to accept things we don’t like and know the difference between those things and the things we can change.

[27:23] – Other therapies use the term “trigger”, but DBT views triggers differently.

[29:51] – Patty explains what “Check the Facts” means and the ways clients are taught to manage the situation without exhibiting problem behaviors.

[32:38] – Patty describes what they look at in individual therapy sessions and how parents sometimes inadvertently reinforce behaviors. 

[35:03] – DBT gives children, adolescents, and families the skills and tools to handle difficult situations and accept the things that can’t be changed.

[36:50] – Parents also have access to skills leaders for coaching as needed.

[37:32] – Validation is not the same thing as praise.

[38:31] – We are all guilty of skipping the step of validating emotions and jumping to solving problems. We can’t solve the problem with high emotions.


About Our Guest:

Patricia (Patty) Gieselman, MFT is a DBT-Linehan Board of Certification, Certified

Clinician™. She is the founder and Executive Director of Choices Counseling & Skills

Center, which specializes in comprehensive Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for adults, adolescents, children and their families. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with extensive experience working with adults, adolescents, and families in both community-based and residential settings. During her career, she has worked in the public and private sector as a clinician, consultant, trainer, program director, and Vice President of Clinical Services. In addition to offering counseling services, Ms. Gieselman trains mental health professionals as a provider of continuing education courses for the California Association of Marriage & Family Therapists (CAMFT), Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) and the California Psychological Association (CPA) and has been an adjunct instructor for local universities. She has been an invited trainer both nationally and internationally. Patty is well-known for her practical yet often whimsical approach to teaching and problem solving.


Connect with Patty:

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The Diverse Thinking Different Learning podcast is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or legal advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, the views and opinions expressed by the host and guests are not considered treatment and do not necessarily reflect those of ChildNEXUS, Inc or the host, Dr. Karen Wilson.