Written by Tracey Gerlach, MAPP, CTRS, Director of Clinical Partnerships

As the nineteenth-century decorated poet Vitamin C once sang:

And so we talked all night about the rest of our lives
Where we’re gonna be when we turn 25
I keep thinking times will never change
Keep on thinking things will always be the same

Graduating from high school marks a significant milestone in a young person’s life, AND it can also be a time of uncertainty and change. This transition can evoke many emotions, including excitement, anxiety, sadness, and uncertainty about the future.

But when we leave this year, we won’t be coming back
No more hanging out ’cause we’re on a different track

Transition to Independence: Moving away from home, starting college, or entering the workforce can be daunting.

I guess I thought that this would never end
And suddenly it’s like we’re women and men

Identity Exploration: Teens may question their goals, values, and sense of self.

Social Changes: Saying goodbye to friends and adjusting to new social circles can be challenging and emotional.

I keep, keep thinking that it’s not goodbye (It’s not goodbye)
Keep on thinking it’s a time to fly

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) offers valuable tools and strategies to help navigate this transition period effectively.

Let’s explore how DBT can support individuals during the pivotal time of high school graduation.

How DBT Can Help During High School Graduation

1. Emotion Regulation

DBT teaches skills for identifying and managing intense emotions effectively. During this transition, graduates can use techniques like mindfulness, grounding exercises, and distress tolerance to navigate emotional highs and lows.

2. Mindfulness Practices

Mindfulness is a core component of DBT that promotes present-moment awareness and acceptance. Graduates can use mindfulness to stay grounded and reduce anxiety about the future.

3. Interpersonal Effectiveness

DBT emphasizes effective communication and relationship-building skills. Graduates can use these skills to navigate new social environments, establish boundaries, and maintain supportive connections.

4. Distress Tolerance

DBT equips individuals with tools to tolerate distress without resorting to harmful behaviors. During this transition, graduates can learn healthy coping mechanisms to manage stress and uncertainty during this transition.

Implementing DBT Strategies During High School Graduation

As high school graduation approaches, individuals can incorporate DBT strategies into their daily routines:

  • Self-Assessment: Reflect on personal goals, values, and strengths to build self-awareness.
  • Skills Practice: Attend DBT sessions or workshops to learn and practice emotion regulation and mindfulness techniques.
  • Peer Support: Connect with peers or support groups to share experiences and receive encouragement and validation.
  • Family Involvement: Involve family members in the transition process and communicate openly about feelings and concerns.

Overcoming Challenges and Embracing Growth

DBT empowers graduates to embrace change and navigate life transitions with resilience. Individuals can approach this milestone with confidence and adaptability by developing essential skills in emotion regulation, mindfulness, and interpersonal effectiveness.

As we go on, we remember (Oh, yes, we remember)
All the times we had together
And as our lives change, come whatever
We will still be friends forever (Always remember)

High school graduation is a momentous occasion filled with excitement and anticipation for the future. By incorporating DBT skills into your transition process, you can enhance emotional resilience, cultivate self-awareness, and confidently embrace new opportunities.

Remember, navigating life transitions like graduation is a journey, and DBT can be a valuable companion. Your proactive approach to mental wellness can set the stage for a successful and fulfilling transition into the next chapter of your life.

La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la
Yeah, yeah, yeah
La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la (We will still be friends forever)