ACES Adolescent Dialectical Behavioral Training (DBT-A) Skills Group

Create “a life worth living”

Our new DBT-A Skills Group is for teens ages 13-17 and their caregivers. The 24-week group teaches effective strategies to manage emotions, reduce high-risk/life threatening behaviors , and navigate problems and relationships. In general, DBT aims to help clients create “a life worth living.”

DBT skills teach teens and families to:

  • Regulate their emotions and behaviors
  • Reduce problem behaviors and increase skillful behaviors
  • Experience a range of emotions without acting on those emotions
  • Improve relationships with family, school, and peers

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) was originally developed to treat adults who had difficulty controlling emotions and behavior, and who often engaged in risky, life-threatening behaviors (including self-harm, substance abuse, and /or suicidal threats) to manage those strong emotions. Research has shown the DBT is also helpful for teens and their families. It aims to replace problem behaviors with skillful behaviors and helps people experience emotions in ways that support their goals. Participation in DBT helps families develop a validating, change-ready environment that can support their teen’s long-term progress.

See New York Times article about DBT-A: The Best Tool We Have’ for Self-Harming and Suicidal Teens

Five skill modules are included in DBT-A skills training:

Mindfulness is a practice aimed at increasing self-control, enhancing awareness of the present, and decreasing suffering.  Mindfulness is taught at the beginning of each module.
Distress Tolerance helps you get through intense emotion, crisis situations, and accept long-term life circumstances we cannot change.
Emotion Regulation helps you understand and alter emotions.
Interpersonal Effectiveness enhances effective communication and building relationships you want.
Middle Path skills help parents and teens navigate relationships more effectively.

Practical Details

Pre-Group Assessment with Dr. Tuerk

The pre-group assessment has three parts:

  • Register: Completion of registration and consent forms, client history form, and online completion of standardized rating scales: Behavior Assessment System for Children, Third Edition Parent Rating Scale (BASC-3) for adolescents (both caregivers), BASC-3 Parenting Relationship Questionnaire (both caregivers), BASC-3 Adolescent Self-Report (teen)
  • Caregiver Pre-Group Assessment Intake: Tele-health 60-90 minute session with caregivers to introduce DBT treatment model, review family treatment needs, share pre-group assessment rating scale results, explain group requirements, and make recommendations about joining the DBT-A skills group at this time.   
  • Teen Pre-Group Assessment Intake: Tele-health or in-person meeting with the teen where the group details and requirements are explained to assess their readiness to make this type of commitment.

DBT-A Skill Group Participation Requirements

Both caregivers are expected to attend with their teen.
If the provider and family agree that the group is a good fit at this time, you will become a participant in our multifamily DBT-A skills group. All caregivers are required to attend all sessions with their teen. For some families, we may recommend completing DBT parent training before having the teen and parents start the multifamily group. Please note that participation in a skills group alone does not constitute a comprehensive adolescent DBT treatment. 

Teens must also have an individual therapist 
All teens must have a current individual therapist managing their care in addition to participation in the 24 week DBT-A skills group with caregivers. (Participation in the group also requires coordination with the individual therapist). If your teen needs an individual therapist, please ask when you call to inquire about the group.  Dr. Tuerk is available to see a limited number of families for comprehensive DBT-A therapy in addition to the DBT-A skills group participation. 

All families must attend all sessions
All teens and their caregivers must be able to commit to weekly participation for the entire 24 week group session.

When and Where

Wednesday night at 5:30PM – 7:30PM
Rolling Admission

ACES Crozet Office – 300 Claremont Lane, Suite 103 Crozet, VA 22932


Pre-Group Assessment with Dr. Tuerk: $660
Each 2 hour group session is $200 per family.
– Payment will be collected for 6 sessions ($1200) at a time, for a total of $4800 over the six months