DBT Treatment for Teenage Girls and Their Families
Sunrise is a residential treatment center serving adolescent girls and their families. We help girls ages 13-17 with emotional struggles, including anxiety, borderline personality disorder, depression, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and self-injurious or suicidal behavior. We help the whole family, not just the student, to learn and integrate DBT skills into their lives so that she can return home healthy and happy — and stay that way.
For families, it all comes down to one question: “Will my daughter get better?” At Sunrise, the answer is “Yes.” As a DBT treatment center, we emphasize DBT going beyond therapeutic groups and focus on real-life application. If your daughter has been in outpatient therapy or a day program that offers dialectical behavior therapy, chances are that your daughter could teach the DBT skills with fluency. But if you’re still not seeing the success you had hoped for, she’s likely missing one key piece: how to live DBT.
For families, it all comes down to one question: “Will my daughter get better?” At Sunrise, the answer is yes.
A Quick History of DBT
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a form of therapy developed in the 1980s by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D. It was created to help individuals struggling with borderline personality disorder by teaching a set of core skills. Since then, these skills have been shown to be effective in treating other forms of mental illness.
DBT In a Nutshell
DBT is based on a set of skills designed to help individuals with mental health issues work through difficult emotions and manage relationships. These skills can be beneficial for everyone, not only those struggling with mental health.
You can learn more about DBT and the four stages of this treatment using the House of DBT model.
What is a DBT Treatment Center?
A DBT treatment center incorporates Behavioral Tech’s dialectical behavior therapy skills into everyday life at the program. In addition to traditional therapeutic and academic support, Sunrise students use DBT in therapy, school, groups, and throughout the day in the community. These skills will help your daughter regulate her emotions and better manage relationships. Constant DBT practice helps your daughter integrate the skills until they become a natural habit, which will help her maintain recovery after program completion.
What’s different about how Sunrise uses dbt?
Many treatment centers incorporate aspects of DBT into their programs and provide group therapy to learn the skills of DBT. Some treatment centers, such as Sunrise, fully integrate the practices of DBT among every member of its staff at every level. This means that she won’t just learn the skills. She will live them.
Fully Integrated DBT Program (Not Just a Group)
There is no doubt that DBT skills are beneficial in nearly every situation. But imagine how much more effective it would be to learn and understand DBT if everyone around you was an expert (or becoming an expert)?
That’s what it’s like in a fully integrated (also called a fully adherent) DBT program. We don’t have just one DBT certified therapist to teach the skills group. Instead, all employees at Sunrise are intensely or fundamentally trained in, and live by, the DBT skills set. That means that everyone with whom your daughter interacts at Sunrise–the cook, her teachers, residential staff, maintenance–will be reflecting the skills she is learning. You, as her parents, will also be learning and practicing these skills. Your daughter will leave skills group and walk into a community full of experts who are ready to practice with her.
Sunrise uses a fully-integrated model for DBT, which means that she won’t just learn the skills. She will live them.
We focus on a student’s relationship with herself, her family, her peers, and her environment.
Multi-Pronged Approach to DBT Treatment
Our Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) foundationally trained therapists are skilled in working with adolescents and families struggling with a variety of emotional and systemic problems. We use a variety of clinical modules to help our students succeed.
Our students average ten hours a week in therapy. Each student will have a one-hour session with her individual therapist each week. This is her time to bring up anything she would like to address, as well as review skills and discuss overall progress.
Additionally, we ask parents to join us over video conference for an hour of family therapy each week. It’s important, both for you and your daughter, that the family is involved and connected in the entire treatment process. This is a time to look at the entire family system and examine what’s working and where improvements are needed. Your therapist will guide you towards building a deeper, safer relationship with your daughter, and to heal past hurts. We also ask you to come to our campus about every 12 weeks for in-person family therapy sessions, parent and family support groups, and time with your daughter. The family relationship will be among the most influential pieces of your daughter’s time at Sunrise.
Group work is another powerful therapy tool. Over five hours every week will be spent in group therapy with her peers. Sunrise has general open process, experiential, and smaller specialty groups that are relevant to your daughter and her unique needs. Therapeutic groups allow students to get support from peers, as well as practice relationship skills by giving peers feedback in an emotionally safe way.
There are times when medication can be an extremely helpful part of a student’s journey. Our psychiatrist will monitor each student and, if needed, is able to prescribe and adjust medications as necessary. Sometimes she will stay on this medication throughout her stay at Sunrise, while other times medication is needed only for a short time and she can be tapered off by the time she goes home.
“Before we sent Jeana to Sunrise, she had huge mood issues that included regular meltdowns; intense anger issues; and an inability and unwillingness to “agree to disagree” with her younger brother…”
Feedback Informed Treatment
We take our feedback seriously. We want to ensure that our treatment approach is working for each individual student and family. We use extensive testing and outcome scores to make sure that your daughter and family are progressing as planned. We do this through testing at admission, throughout her stay, and for two years after discharge. If during the course of her treatment we notice that something is off, we will alter our approach to ensure the best results for your family.
Our program is based on meaningful relationships. We focus on a student’s relationship with herself, her family, her peers, and her environment.
Tranquil, Healing Environment
Sunrise is located in the peaceful red rocks of Southern Utah. We want your daughter to feel comfortable and at-home during her time here. Meals are served family-style, she has chores to help maintain her living area, school is located in a different building, and she will consistently be treated with love and warmth.
The group of professionals–therapists, teachers, nurses, recreation therapists, and residential staff–that care for your daughter will meet together once a week to discuss her progress. This group is called her ‘treatment team’. They will work to build a meaningful relationship with your family and your daughter, and surround her with love at all times. Their sole focus is to ensure that she is thriving and making therapeutic progress.
Healing the Family Environment and Relationships
Our goal is for your daughter to go home and continue to live a healthy and meaningful life. We have found that the best way to accomplish this is by treating the family, not just your daughter. We use systems-based therapy to heal the home environment and help the family as a whole become healthier and stronger. It’s likely that relationships at home were damaged prior to your daughter’s admission to Sunrise. Through family therapy and the skills that your family will be learning, these relationships can be repaired and strengthened.
Evening and Weekend Activities
We want your daughter to live the most normal life possible while they are in our care. We are located near the town of St. George, Utah, where we take the girls out for evening and weekend activities. These may include service projects, shopping trips, community events, and other activities in which they are interested. We are located only 30 minutes away from the stunning Zions National Park3, and a few additional minutes from Southern Utah’s other national parks4. We take our students on hikes and camping trips in an unforgettable environment. They are normal teenagers, and we want them to have the normal teenage experience while learning healthy activities.
They are normal teenagers, and we want them to have the normal teenage experience while participating in healthy activities.
Talk therapy isn’t for everyone. Each person has a different learning style, and a different therapy style. Experiential therapy takes an in-the-moment situation and processes it therapeutically. This helps the student see how a therapeutic concept applies to a real life situation. Your daughter will participate in experiential therapy each week with a certified recreation therapist. This is beneficial even for students who do great work with talk therapy. Experiential activities can identify problem areas that may not come up in individual therapy, or that the student didn’t even know were there.
In Town Location
Sunrise has two locations–one in the town of Hurricane, Utah and one nearby in the town of Washington, Utah. Both are just a short drive from the larger city of St. George. Our goal is for each of our students to cultivate a passion for life. While much of this work can be done within the healing walls of Sunrise’s facility, there is also a need to have real world experiences. Showing your daughter the good that can be found in the community, and helping them create and sustain it, gives them hope for the future and the wonderful things that the world can offer them.
Sunrise is a fully accredited school. We strive for your daughter to have a ‘real’ high school experience, within the safety of our therapeutic setting. Each spring we hold a high school graduation for our seniors, where we will present them with their high school diplomas.
“I am so pleased to say that Sarah continues to do so well.
She has graduated with honors; she was accepted at 7 of her 8 college applications, the university she settled on (University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music, “CCM”) chose her for 6 slots out of a group of maybe 350 applications for her very specific program (theater production and design; specifically lighting design)…”
Academic Success Leads To Confidence
Students come into Sunrise with varying interest and success in academics. Some excel in spite of emotional struggles, while others have dropped the last three semesters due to hospitalization. Sunrise is committed to helping your daughter succeed regardless of her current academic situation. Sunrise’s academics are individualized to meet her personal needs. Her teachers will help her learn in the way that is best for her. As she begins to succeed, she will gain confidence in herself.
DBT Trained and Credentialed Teachers
Each of the teachers at Sunrise is trained and credentialed in DBT. These skills are integrated into every aspect of a student’s life at Sunrise, including her time at school. The teachers use, and expect the students to use, DBT skills to tackle the challenges that come with academics. Your daughter will leave the program able to use these skills in a school setting, whether she’s going back to junior high, high school, or heading off to college.
Treatment at Sunrise is proven to work. Our outcomes track the emotional health of the students and their families from the time of admission, as they progress through the program, and for two years afterwards. For most of our families, Sunrise is their last residential stop and the end of a daughter’s hospitalizations. The data we gather helps us to know what’s working, and what isn’t. And if something isn’t working, we will change our approach. No other DBT program invests in data-based treatment the way that Sunrise does.
We invite you to speak with our current and alumni students and families to see if sunrise is right for your family. To do so, please call (888) 317-3961 and we will be able to connect you.
Life At Sunrise
Most days at Sunrise are structured in the same way. On weekdays, your daughter will head off to school in the mornings, and come back to campus for therapy in the afternoon. She and her peers will complete an hour of dance or yoga, and then come together to eat dinner as a community. In the evenings, we set aside a block of time for homework, and a block of time for play. Then, it’s time to wind down and get ready for bed.
Weekends allow time for more adventure. Your daughter will be able to spend time off campus with her peers and staff. This may be an evening in the city, or an afternoon hiking the red rocks. View our in-depth schedule here.
Sunrise is a Joint Commission (JCAHO) accredited program, a member of the National Association for Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP), and a fully accredited school by AdvancedEd. We are also certified for our equine program by the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA).
Before we sent Jeana to Sunrise, she had huge mood issues that included regular meltdowns; intense anger issues; and an inability and unwillingness to “agree to disagree” with her younger brother. We never left them alone in the same room together because we figured they might kill each other. Jeana had no interest in school, no thoughts about her future career goals and an enormous angst about being adopted at birth, even though we had always maintained an open adoption and she spent some quality time with her birth family from time to time. She was attending a special public school for emotional disability, had failed about half of her high school courses, and really resented everyone in our family. When she threatened suicide to escape her “horrible life”, we turned to a residential placement which quickly sent her to a wilderness camp. Her residential placement didn’t want her back afterwards because they didn’t think they could help her. We chose Sunrise next and it was a great match for Jeana. The small, girls-only setting with lots of DBT sessions, emotional support, accountability, physical activity, and individualized learning really worked for her. The adoption support group showed her how good her adoption situation is, and she actually thanked us for giving her a life she could never have had with her birth mother. Thanks for your hard work helping girls everywhere work out their adolescent issues. It is so hard to grow up healthy these days without a lot of support for life’s crises. Thanks for being there for our family.
AN ALUMNA MOTHER 1 Year After Finishing Treatment
I am so pleased to say that Sarah continues to do so well. She has graduated with honors; she was accepted at 7 of her 8 college applications, the university she settled on (University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music, “CCM”) chose her for 6 slots out of a group of maybe 350 applications for her very specific program (theater production and design; specifically lighting design). CCM is considered one of the very top colleges for theater in the county. They get thousands of applications for the program (not just lighting) and pick 1 -2%. Sarah was so successful not only because of her resume and recommendations, but also she learned how to connect with people (her interviews were with her future professors). For example, in the interview she discovered that one of the professors has a close connection with a lighting manufacturer whose business is located in …. Hurricane, Utah! So she was able to connect with him about Hurricane! It was the skills you helped her develop that allowed that interview to be so successful. Also she is now 18! (and I have no desire to ask her to leave the house!) Most importantly, everything I just described is just “symptoms” of a girl who has found how to be happy with herself. It’s not all roses and sunshine, but she continues to intentionally work on her issues. She talks to us and seeks our support and advice. She knows who she is and what she needs to work on and can accept that and be happy with herself. There are so many examples of how she takes a healthy approach to issues she would have become dysregulated about before. She seeks help when she needs it. She cares for herself. Nina and I also continue to do well. We now have a good language to be able to discuss our issues (with Sarah and between ourselves). We continue to have healthy boundaries and to be open and truthful in our discussions. Mutual Aid continues for us, but now less frequently than before; and the Parenting without Pressure book continues to help us structure things. Sarah is a real success story, for herself, for us and for Sunrise. You guys are the best and I look forward to seeing you all again when we can make a reunion! I really miss Utah and all of you! Please know that you do one of the most important jobs in the world and you make a difference!
AN ALUM FATHER 9 Months After Finishing Treatment
Getting Help For Your Family
We invite you to call (855) 804-5324 to speak with one of our admissions counselors. They will answer your questions and conduct an assessment with you to see if Sunrise is a good fit for your daughter. If it seems that we may not be the best fit for your daughter, we will help you find an education consultant in your area. The education consultant will be able to identify a few programs where your daughter will have the best opportunity to be successful.
Finding the right placement for your daughter can be daunting and arduous. Using this list of questions when speaking with different Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) treatment centers can help you make the right choice for your family.
What to Expect
Prior to admission, you can talk to our admissions counselors as much as you need. They will answer your questions and address your concerns. We also welcome you to speak with our alumni students and families–our admissions counselors will be able to put you in contact with them. We invite you to come to Utah to spend time on our campus and meet the staff that would be working with your daughter. This is a big decision and we want you to know you’re making the right one.
Admitting your daughter to any program feels overwhelming to most parents. Sunrise will support you every step of the way. Often parents will travel to Sunrise with their daughter on admission day, while in other cases, circumstance requires that the daughter be professionally transported to our campus. When your daughter arrives, she will be greeted by a staff and peer who will take her on a tour and help her unpack. Once she is all settled in, and the parents have completed any remaining paperwork, the family will have the opportunity to say goodbye to their daughter in private. After family leaves, she will stay with a staff at all times until her therapist determines that she will be safe.
The first few weeks at Sunrise may be challenging, both for families and daughters. As your daughter adjusts to her new environment, she might feel homesick and ask you to take her home. This is heart-wrenching for parents to hear. However, as time moves on, you will build trust with her team, and she will acclimate to the program. As she begins to work therapeutically, you will start to see positive changes in your daughter. Your daughter will have the chance to visit home while at Sunrise. These visits shouldn’t be thought of as a ‘vacation from treatment’, but rather a time for your family to practice the skills you’ve been learning in the home environment. The progress may not seem linear–there will be ups and downs–but she is steadily evolving into her healthier self.
Your daughter will mature into a confident, healthy, and independent young woman. When she, her treatment team, and her family see this, it is time for her to graduate the program and transition home or into her next phase of life. Prior to discharge, we will help your family ensure that your daughter has appropriate therapeutic and academic support in the home community. Our students tend to do best at home when their time is structured. Her therapist will help her find extracurricular activities or volunteer work to fill her time with something meaningful. On her graduation day, we invite parents and family members to come to campus to join us in a celebration of your family and the work you have completed.
The transition home is both joyous and overwhelming. To help with the fluctuations of life at home, Sunrise offers a monthly support call for parents, and a bi-monthly support call for alumnae students.
Each of these calls is lead by a Sunrise therapist and will address topics of concern to transitioning families and students, as well as offer support and encouragement from others on the call. While the journey will not always be easy, we are confident that your family will be successful transitioning from Sunrise.
The transition home is both joyous and overwhelming. To help with the fluctuations of life at home, Sunrise offers a monthly support call for parents, and a bi-monthly support call for alumni students.
Through therapy, activities, academics, and support, your daughter will become a healthy young woman and regain her passion for life.
WE ARE COMMITTED TO THE SUCCESS OF YOUR DAUGHTER, AND YOUR ENTIRE FAMILY
Sunrise uses more comprehensive outcomes than any other fully integrated DBT program. By integrating DBT into every aspect of our program, your daughter will live the skills, not just learn them. We focus on the family to create a healthy system in which your daughter will thrive after returning home. Through therapy, activities, academics, and support, your daughter will become a healthy young woman with a passion for life.
1 “Walking the Middle Path.” Wise Minds DBT. Web. 13 June 2017.
2 “Understanding Different Approaches to Psychotherapy.” Psych Central. 17 July 2016. Web. 13 June 2017.
3 “Zion National Park Travel and Hiking Guide.” ZionNationalPark.com. Web. 13 June 2017.
4 “The Mighty 5®: Utah’s National Parks.” Visit Utah Life Elevated. Web. 13 June 2017.