Skills and Supports for Better Futures: DBT for High-Risk Youth [2021-11-16]

Justice-involved and high-risk youth often present with histories of trauma which impact emotional regulation and contribute to high-risk behaviours, justice involvement, and mental health difficulties. DBT is a cognitive-behavioral intervention established for youth experiencing multiple problems such as self-injury, substance abuse, anger, and unstable relationships. Traditional DBT programs are intensive and long-term making them difficult for this population to access.

This presentation outlines the development of the program and the evaluation results associated with a DBT program for use with justice-involved and high-risk youth, as well as for virtual use amid the Covid-19 Pandemic. Youth completed self-report measures pertaining to their experience of trauma symptoms, substance use, self-injurious behaviours, and self-efficacy. Youth and facilitators also shared their experiences and satisfaction with the program.

The results suggest that a shortened, modified, and virtual version of DBT can be successfully implemented and can produce improvements for this population.


Dr. Joyce Radford | London Family Court Clinic

Dr. Debbie Chiodo | London Family Court Clinic

Emilia Pacholec | London Family Court Clinic