Adolescent DBT Referral Process

Getting started in the Adolescent DBT Program


Families start the process of participating in the Adolescent DBT program by calling 908-994-7378 to state that they are interested.

The DBT Coordinator or another DBT team member will call back within five business days, and after a brief phone screen, the teen will be added to the waitlist for the DBT program. If families are seeking treatment right away, an intake will be scheduled and services (e.g., group therapy, individual/family therapy, medication management) will be provided through the Trinitas Child/Adolescent Outpatient Department (COPU) until there is an opening in the DBT program.

IMPORTANT NOTES: Service providers and referral agencies are welcome to contact the DBT coordinator for more information about the DBT program and you can click here for our Adolescent DBT referral form. Fill it out and fax it to the DBT Coordinator at 908-994-7354. However, families will not be put on the waitlist for the DBT program until they call the DBT program directly. Please be advised that DBT is a voluntary treatment, and clients and families cannot be forced to participate in the treatment program.

Screening Process
Once there is an opening in the program, the DBT Coordinator or another team member will call the family to schedule a screening appointment.

If you are currently a client at the COPU, the screening appointment will take approximately 60 minutes.

If you are a new client to the COPU, the screening appointment will take between 2-3 hours. Please come 30 minutes early with your ID and insurance card, in order to complete paperwork. A COPU staff member may call you after the screening appointment is scheduled to verify your insurance benefits.

The goals of the screening appointment are as follows:

  • To provide education about the DBT program at Trinitas
  • To assess whether clients'/families' goals match what DBT at Trinitas can provide
  • To assess clients'/families' motivation to participate in a comprehensive DBT program
  • To establish an objective baseline of clients' presenting problems, in order to measure progress during the course of treatment

Clients will be asked about their symptoms and what has brought them to DBT, as well as any obstacles that could interfere with being successful in DBT. Clients will have the opportunity to ask questions about the program, as well.

The first appointment with clients' individual therapists will be provided either: at the screening time or,within five business days, after the information is reviewed with the DBT consultation team and/or DBT coordinator and the individual therapist will call the family to schedule the first session.

Pre-Treatment Process
Before starting the multi-family DBT skills group, clients and families will attend four pre-treatment sessions so that they and their therapists can:

  • Get to know each other and agree to work together
  • Identify treatment goals
  • Continue orientation about the DBT program
  • Sign a commitment agreement to participate in the program

After the fourth pre-treatment session and the signing of the commitment agreement, clients and families will begin the Comprehensive Adolescent DBT program. This program includes weekly individual/family therapy, a weekly multi-family DBT skills group, and phone coaching.

Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria for Adolescent DBT at Trinitas
(If you are unsure if you fit these criteria, please speak with a team member when you make the initial call.)

Inclusion Criteria for adolescents and young adults ages 12-18, experiencing at least three of the following symptoms:

  • History of a suicide attempt, and/or self-injurious behavior (e.g., cutting, burning, scratching) in the past 16 weeks, and/or currently exhibits suicidal thoughts
  • Frequent mood changes
  • Difficulty controlling anger
  • Unstable relationships
  • Efforts to avoid loss
  • Impulsive behaviors (e.g., substance abuse, aggression, reckless spending, unsafe sex, uncontrollable eating, running away, school truancy)
  • Frequent changes in self-image
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Dissociation

A parent/caregiver must also have the capability to attend a two-hour multi-family skills group that meets weekly with his/her teenager.

Exclusion Criteria include the following:

  • Active psychosis
  • Severe learning disabilities
  • Severe cognitive impairment
  • Inability to meet attendance requirements due to severe medical issues, transportation difficulties, insufficient resources to assure at 19 to 23 weeks of treatment (i.e. limited sessions allowed by insurance, insufficient finances to pay for co-pays, etc.)
  • Treatment is being mandated by the courts, DCPP or some other agency
  • Unwillingness/disinterest in lowering suicidal or self-harm behaviors
  • Unwillingness/disinterest in lowering substance use behaviors or eating disordered behaviors

Trinitas Adolescent DBT

Our program helps those who want to help themselves.