Teenagers are the greatest enigma. Maturing, yet still young in so many ways, teenagers are in a unique place in life, and when each young person brings with them not only a diagnosis, but a personality, a temperament, dreams, talents, struggles, and histories, the best therapies are designed that take all of this into account, giving room for each teen to be treated individually.
In her interactive work, DBT Therapeutic Activity Ideas for Working With Teens, Carol Lozier takes all she has learned about working with teenagers with borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety, and other emotional sensitivities and created activities that address the teen’s personal needs while adapting to the experiences and understandings unique to this particular age group.
Targeted primarily for therapists who would actually be working with teenagers through DBT therapy, this workbook is a melding of instruction, explanation, and workbook pages for the teens themselves. Much like a teacher’s manual of step-by-step instructions mixed with the teachable content, a reader/therapist is introduced to the concepts presented and to the interactive supplements intended to be given to the teens in therapy. This simplified walk-through is accessible, simplified, and easily applicable.
Lozier begins this manual with an explanation of DBT and a division into four basic modules, by which the rest of the content is categorized. Each module is a mixture of background information, reflecting the author’s knowledge base and experience; specific instructions for the workbook pages and their use with teen clients; and an image of the workbook page to be given to the teens. Each of the workbook pages corresponds with an understanding of a module, a series of questions or ideas, or a series of sequential steps for the teen to think through, act on, or observe. Many of the workbook pages focus on basic life skills such as making good decisions, understanding your own emotions, emotional regulation steps, addressing fears and strong emotions, giving and receiving emotional support, communicating needs, and more. While these are very generic in the broad sense, they are key components of recovery and growth for a teen with borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety, and other emotional sensitivities.
Having worked with struggling teenagers in a different but similar capacity as Ms. Lozier, I found myself engaging with the content and the information, imagining ways to apply the modules in my own work with young people. Her style and delivery is clear, concise, and accessible, even to me as someone with less education in the area. Her gift for working with a younger clientele and the unique understandings she has gained from it are evident in the straightforward way that she communicates the content.
While the content is thorough, seemingly effective, and basic enough to be easily explained and applied to any teen, the workbook lends itself to being a better fit for a child than a teenager. As defined by the author herself, her target audience includes adolescents from age 13 to 19. This is a very broad range, from “tweens” just approaching puberty to young adults moving out of their parent’s covering into college and beyond. As such, it is challenging to create materials that adapt to this entire age range. While this isn’t a direct issue for the content itself — as it is based on the psychological and psychiatric principles that are the backbone of the DBT therapy modality — it is a challenge for the workbook aspect.
The material and background information is explained in a very clear, effective manner with a clear guideline throughout the workbook of what the therapist is to do and expect. This professionalism of the content is clear, as is the authority and credibility of the author and therapist who wrote it.
The workbook does not look particularly professional because of the appearance of a hand-written set of notes with often feminine and child-like decorations. While a small thing aesthetically, upon first glance, this reviewer would not have known that the book had a target audience above 8-10 years old. Even when referencing the portion of the generation dealing with emotional sensitivities, they are still considered the “sight and sound” generation, drawn to appealing and age-appropriate materials.
Despite this minor criticism, the content of the manual is sound and extremely beneficial, and this reviewer not only recommends the manual but will be using it to better understand and assist teenagers walking through recovery of borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety, and other emotional sensitivities. Ms. Lozier has created a truly accessible and thorough manual to assist all therapists in walking their clients from illness through to a functional life.
DBT Therapeutic Activity Ideas for Working with Teens
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, February 2018
Paperback, 200 pages