This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Books and Methods Review - Methods - The 5 Love Languages

The 5 Love Languages

2.     The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell
3.    The Five Love Languages of Teenagers by Gary Chapman

Marythemom:  I use the love languages daily.  Not just to help me understand my husband and family and express my love to them, but with every person I come in contact with.  With my employees, it helps to know how to best reward their achievements and motivate them.  With friends, I can figure out how best to express my appreciation or provide support.

We've read The Five Love Languages, The Five Love Languages of Children, and The Five Love Languages of Teenagers by Gary Chapman about a dozen times in Sunday school classes. The Five Love Languages is a required book for marriage counseling for engaged couples for some churches (a really good idea by the way!). I highly recommend them.

Basically everyone has a primary love language. This is how you know that people love you. You can tell someone you love them until you are blue in the face, but if their love language is physical touch and you rarely touch them - they will not believe you love them!! This is especially important with children in my opinion, but in all relationships knowing their love language (and your own) keeps you from getting frustrated and relationships from ending miserably. It's not totally obvious sometimes what someone's love language is, and some people are "bilingual", but generally here's the highlights.

1. Physical Touch - a big one with guys. This is physical affection (obviously), touches, kisses, hugs...
2. Acts of Service - this is how my Mom expresses love (although it is not her love language). This is doing things (making a meal, knitting a sweater, getting up and getting a drink for someone, mowing the lawn, paying the bills, taking out the trash...
3. Words of Affirmation - this is me and my Mom! This is being told you are doing a good job at something, hearing "I love you," little love notes, even wolf whistles...
4. Quality Time - this is spending time together. (This is Bear big time! If you are not spending time with him, listening to him talk, then you do not love him!) This doesn't have to be talking, can be just watching TV together, going places together, looking into each other's eyes...
5. Gifts - this is one of the few that Hubby and I do not have at all! It is however Kitty’s love language. Not that everyone doesn't like getting gifts, but this person has a special place in their heart for the gift. It is a symbol of that person's love for them. They can tell you where they got it, who gave it to them and under what circumstances. They usually keep it in a special place and take great care of it. Think “The Last Doll” in The Little Princess movie/book.

Young children need ALL FIVE languages and do not have a primary love language until they are early elementary age. This makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Babies especially need ALL of these things done for them. Often you can’t tell a child’s love language until about age 8.

There are tests you can take (here's a good one, and another one, and reading the book(s) really helps, but even then, sometimes it's hard to tell what people's love languages are. Some are obvious, like my oldest son, others not so much. Sometimes how they express love is a good clue, but that can be altered by experience (for example, my Mom is ACTS OF SERVICE all the time, but her love language is actually Words of Affirmation. I don't know if she was taught to do acts of service - a generational thing, or, more likely, she learned that if she does things for others they are more likely to praise her and give her the words of affirmation that she needs). 

There is a 5 love languages book for children as well. They suggest a test if you really can't figure it out your child’s love language.  Try completely removing one of the love languages and seeing if it makes a difference (like not touch the child for a week). I suppose the opposite would be to go crazy with one and see if the kid blooms (that would be my preference - especially while we're still trying to get some of our kids to attach!). My kids would love treats and presents for a week! (Gifts)

There is a 5 love languages book for teens as well.  It has some practical advice on how to love your teens without embarrassing them (too much).  My adopted children are better served by the child’s version because developmentally they are much younger than their chronological years.

Finding out someone's love language is essential! It affects people's self-esteem if no one loves them (and if you're not speaking their language then they feel you "don't love them!"). Also, if your "love tank" is empty then you are unable to give love or really even function well. You need love!

Because half my kids are attachment disordered they are not going to fill my love tank. Dealing with them regularly drains it in fact. Because I am the only Words of Affirmation speaker in the house, it is not easy for me to get the words of love that I need to function. I have learned to encourage others to speak in my language (they can be taught!! *grin*) and I have learned to go elsewhere for ways to fill my tank. This is one reason I blog!! I love hearing from others that I'm doing a good job.

I use the love languages daily.  Not just to help me understand my husband and family and express my love to them, but with every person I come in contact with.  With my employees, it helps to know how to best reward their achievements and motivate them.  With friends, I can figure out how best to express my appreciation or provide support.  I hope that all parents figure out what their child’s love language is!

Books and Methods Review - Methods - The Trust Jar

The Trust Jar

Created by Aspenhall at

This is a visual, concrete way to explain trust to a child.  The trust jar is a very visibly placed large vase filled with cotton balls, lima beans, anything not intrinsically appealing.   The vase should be mostly full, so if the child is 6 and the jar was less than half full, the child would get the life of a 3 yr old....constant supervision, no friends houses, or paints, or scissors etc... If the jar is near full the child has full rights to everything a 6 yr old can do....playdoh access, bike riding, friends’ houses, big kid books etc...

In order to "gain trust points/balls", the child must meet parent’s expectations. One point/ball per expectation met. If the child makes poor choices, they lose points...but not just one at a time. OH NO, trust is EASY to lose FAST, but very hard to gain back fast. Depending on the infraction, you may lose from 2 up to EVERY SINGLE BALL. The child never loses less than 2. Because trust is twice as hard to earn once lost. Trust points are not tied to the parent’s emotions unless the child is attached fairly well. (for example, "I'm disappointed with your behavior, and you now lose 3 trust points/balls.")

For EVERY SINGLE request, the trust jar Is “consulted” to see where the level is at. The response to any, "Can I..." privilege request is always, "I don't know.  Let’s go check the trust jar." 

The parent can buy items they think the child would enjoy, HOWEVER, it is up to the child to decide if she is trusted enough to receive the very cool items ( a 2 yr old cannot be trusted with a DVD etc..). They go up on the shelf next to the trust jar until, or unless, the jar is above half full, AND IF the child has not -lost- a SINGLE trust point that day...which includes all of bedtime...the item of the child’s choice is given ONLY the following day.

Marythemom:  We used a variation of the trust jar for a short time, to help my children understand in a visual concrete way why the amount of trust (and responsibilities and privileges) in the house are not fair (ex. the youngest child frequently got to spend the night at friend’s houses while the older children were usually denied).  

For children of trauma, things that happened in the past are always quickly “forgotten.”  Most schools and programs work with a “blank slate” philosophy that also fosters this.  We are trying to encourage the learning of concepts like restitution and accountability so we hold the child responsible for their actions and use their behavior to make decisions regarding responsibilities and privileges.  

My children were seeing this as me “holding a grudge” or loving another child more than them (because the other, usually younger, child had privileges based on their level of responsibility and trust rather than chronological age or that day’s behavior.  By removing trust beans from the child’s jar when they did something untrustworthy they could see that those beans did not automatically refill in the middle of the night, and kind of understood the concept of “earning and losing trust” a little better.  

We did not end up using this to determine level of privileges based on age like Aspenhall did. 

Love Jar - I also did a quick very visual demonstration of something I called Love Jars based on our trust jar experiment.  My kids seemed to think that love was finite, that you could love people to varying degrees (I loved the other kids MORE than I loved them), and that love of another took away love from them (if I loved Bob then I couldn't love Kitty).  

I took a vase and filled it about ¾ of the way full and told them that it represented the love I had for my adopted daughter the day she moved in, based on what I had read and heard about her, our weekend "getting to know you" meeting, and weekly phone calls before placement.  Then I talked about the events of the following days, weeks and months (both positive and negative!) adding a few beans for every event (whether positive or negative).  Obviously the jar was quickly over flowing.  I did the same for her brother (also adopted). 

Then I told the children that the jar represented one of my bio children on the day they were born.  I filled it full to the top.  Then started talking about events from my biodaughter’s life (positive and negative).  Obviously the jar was already full so beans went everywhere.  The events I chose to bring up were pretty funny (like the time she told me her little brother, “bit himself”… on the cheek!).  So this was just a silly demonstration of the fact that I have the capacity to love more than one person, what they do does not affect my love for them, and that I love them all truly, madly, deeply.

Books and Methods - Methods - Theraplay

Theraplay (type of play therapy)

Theraplay is a child and family therapy for building and enhancing attachment, self-esteem, trust in others, and joyful engagement. It is based on the natural patterns of playful, healthy interaction between parent and child and is personal, physical, and fun. Theraplay interactions focus on four essential qualities found in parent-child relationships: Structure, Engagement, Nurture, and Challenge. Theraplay sessions create an active, emotional connection between the child and parent or caregiver, resulting in a changed view of the self as worthy and lovable and of relationships as positive and rewarding.
In treatment, the Theraplay therapist guides the parent and child through playful, fun games, developmentally challenging activities, and tender, nurturing activities. The very act of engaging each other in this way helps the parent regulate the child’s behavior and communicate love, joy, and safety to the child. It helps the child feel secure, cared for, connected and worthy.

Books and Methods Review - Methods - Talk Therapy

Talk Therapy

Marythemom:  This does not work well for kids with attachment issues.  They tend to triangulate (manipulate people against their parents).  Traditional therapists start therapy by establishing a bond/ developing a rapport with their new client... this isn't going to happen with kids with RAD.  If anyone establishes a relationship with them, it needs to be a parent!  We wasted years in talk therapy with Bear.

Differences Between Attachment Therapy and Traditional Therapy

"Fix the Foundation"
"Build the House" on a cracked foundation.
Family is the primary healing resource.  If we trust the family with the child, then we should trust the family with the child's history.Child is seen alone by professional.  Information is not always shared with the family.
Parents set behavioral goals.
Child assists in behavioral goal setting.
Corrective Attachment ParentingToken Economies

"Giving Child the Words".  Not talking about the child's issues says, "What happened to you is so bad that even we grown-ups can't talk about it".  It is less traumatizing to talk about the child's issues than to let the child live with the issues.
Wait for the child to talk about issues.
Quick to switch to different strategies.Continue with more of the same.
"Heal the Pathology"
"Diagnose and Medicate"
Limited use of auxiliary services.  Wraparound often takes the child away from the family.  Too many adults are involved in the child's life who are on a different page, working on behavioral goals without working on issues, often providing rewards the parents are not in favor of, the least skilled people provide the most amount of services (i.e., TSS).Overuse of Auxiliary Services.

Books and Methods - Methods - Nutrition/ Allergies/ Supplements

Nutrition/ Allergies/ Supplements

Diet can significantly impact the impaired brain. Neuroscience shows the limbic system is a hot spot for traumatized children (and stressed out parents).  When overused (typical for people dealing with stress/trauma) we can “burn out” the stress receptors.  Additionally we often crave the food(s) to which we are most allergic/sensitive.

Marythemom:  Sometimes it's good to remember that just because our kids have one or more diagnoses, doesn't mean they might not have other reasons for their behaviors and issues too!

Helpful Yahoo group:

Feingold diet.

Dr. Karen Purvis, PhD of TCU, author of The Connected Child, believes there is a strong connection between nutrition & healing the "kids from hard places."  She lists resources on her website: and at; and a website link from

Dr. Bernui of Hendersonville, TN was one of the recommended practitioners in Jenny McCarty's 2007 book Louder than Words: A Mother's Journey in Healing Autism. He and other holistic practitioners are investigating nutrition & require much more lab work than what we may be used to:

Dr. Daniel Amen (publisher of SPECT scans of addicted and recovering)

Gut and Psychology Syndrome - Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride –  Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAP Syndrome or GAPS) is a condition which establishes a connection between the functions of the digestive system and the brain. Describes how it develops and how to treat it effectively with a sound nutritional protocol. Natural treatment for autism, ADHD/ADD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression and schizophrenia.        Videos

Is This Your Child? By Doris Rapp - In this breakthrough book, Dr. Doris Rapp offers a simple yet effective approach to handling "problem" children. Is This Your Child? shows parents how to identify the common foods, chemicals, or common allergic substances that could be the culprits that cause some children or adults to feel unwell or act inappropriately. If your child is always sick, hyperactive, a slow learner, or cranky, the first question you should ask is not "What drug should be prescribed?" or "What have I done wrong as a parent?" Instead, find out the cause.

Love Me, Feed Me: The Adoptive Parent's Guide to Ending the Worry About Weight, Picky Eating, Power Struggles and More by Dr. Katja Rowell - who is known as the feeding doctor. 

Books and Methods Review - Methods - Neuroreorg


Replicates the normal developmental sequence that infants use to stimulate and grow brain connections.  Specializes in helping post-institutionalized children and those who have experienced trauma or abuse.  It is effective at any age, from infancy through adulthood without pharmaceuticals or medications; all of the work is movement-based.  It is not a quick, easy fix, but it can be a lasting solution. 

NR in a nutshell - a program of movement (crawling, belly crawling, movement of the body in certain patterns, vestibular work (spinning, bouncing, etc.) in order to "re-set" the brain. The theory is that children of trauma develop gaps in good brain development which lead to a whole host of issues. Claims to treat: 

reactive attachment disorder


post-traumatic stress disorder

fetal alcohol exposure

autism spectrum disorders

oppositional defiance disorder


learning disabilities


bipolar disorder


tourette’s syndrome

obssesive/compulsive disorder

autoimmune disorders

limbic rage

sensory processing disorder - Click on Articles/Research and read articles. The first one is How does NR address attachment issues. - Click on Resources and read articles. Click on Media and Press and watch the video about Sargent Goodchild. Developmental Movement Consultants is run by Bette Lamont, NR practitioner. She lives in Seattle but travels to Orlando every few months. 

Informative online support:

An excellent post from a fellow trauma mama explaining  Neuro Reorg and how it works with kids of trauma.

Position paper from the American Academy of Pediatrics (1991) 

This statement reviews patterning as a treatment for children with neurologic impairments. This treatment is based on an outmoded and oversimplified theory of brain development. Current information does not support the claims of proponents that this treatment is efficacious, and its use continues to be unwarranted.

Marythemom:  This is hours of crawling exercises a day, for years.  It requires semi-annual visits to the practitioner (although it can be done via skype, e-mail, phone calls).  There are only a few practitioners so the initial visit can mean a long drive, but the rest can be a long distance.  I’ve heard anecdotal reports of amazing things, although there is often an initial period of regression that can be really tough.  

I did not try this because it’s expensive (not covered by insurance, although the practitioners will work with you) and my attachment disordered kids were already teens by the time I heard of it, Most of all, I didn’t think I could get them to do it, and if I did force them to, I worried that that would damage our attachment work. 

Books and Methods Review - Methods - FAIR Club

The FAIR Club

Marythemom:  This is the discipline method we use at our house.  It is a compilation of selections of everything I’ve ever learned about parenting.  It is ever changing to account for the fact that our children and their needs are ever growing and developing.  The premise is that life is not fair, nor do we want it to be.

The FAIR Club is best used for children who are able to understand abstract concepts emotionally and intellectually. For children under the age of 7 and those emotionally younger (post about determining emotional age), I recommend therapeutic parenting (providing structure and support and setting the child up for success - more like child proofing than consequencing). We discovered that the structure and support of being in the FAIR Club really worked for our children who were physically older, but emotionally under the age of 7 or 8 so they lived in the FAIR Club - we just stopped calling it that. (Post about the Structure and Caring Support we use).

We expect our children to learn to be Respectful, Responsible, Honest, and Fun To Be Around, Loving and Learning  (RRHAFTBALL – pronounced “Raft ball”) in order to enjoy the rights and responsibilities that go with being part of our loving family.

We do NOT try to make everything equal for everyone.  We respect that each of our children has a different personality, is a different age, and has different wants, needs and abilities.  Unlike the FAIR Club, being part of our family means we sometimes cut the child some slack and sometimes we have higher expectations for our children. We’re here to help the child live up to being
more than average or equal.


R – Respectful
– You are expected to be kind, courteous, and helpful in everything you say or do.  Think before you act and remember words and actions can leave irreparable scars on your relationships.

R – Responsible – You are expected, and fully capable of, meeting your rights and responsibilities as listed here.  You are also responsible for taking care of yourself, and taking care of the people around you –especially the people that love you.

H – Honest – Not only does this mean not lying, but includes being honest and true to yourself.  It also means being open and honest about your feelings and needs to those who love you and are trying to help you (like therapists and parents).

AFTBA – Attitude/ Fun To Be Around – You are expected to be fun to be around all the time. This is not easy to do, but you are capable of it. This does not mean that you must be happy at all times!  It simply means that you are not to "inflict yourself" on others when you are not in a good mood. If you are not feeling fun to be around, then you need to think about how to fix this (you can ask for help with this), or how to protect others from your bad mood or whatever is making you not fun to be around (this might mean staying away from others while you work this through).  Think about others.  How are they feeling?  If they are upset, is it helping if you are talking about your latest accomplishment?  Use a pleasant, calm voice.  This does not mean you can’t get excited or talk about things you are interested in, it just means others have rights too – do they want to hear the “I hate Barney” song or anything else sung at the top of your voice while they are stuck sitting next to you in the car?


Added after our children had been with us for awhile:

L – Loving - Sharing and caring.  We watch out for (actively helping) the emotional and physical well being of all family members including ourselves.  This means having give and take in our relationships with each other (not expecting others to do all the work and caring).  We work on issues we might have with being loving.  Isolating yourself is not usually going to help you with this. 

L – Learning- We are always trying to improve ourselves and our lives.  We educate ourselves both in school and about being a better person.  We want to be productive, helpful citizens of the world.  We believe we should be the best person we can possibly be.

The FAIR Club - If a child is not being RRHAFTBALL or is complaining that life is not fair, then they go in the FAIR Club.  The FAIR Club is designed to provide boundaries and additional support while the child practices and gains (or regains) the ability to be RRHAFTBALL.  This involves removing a lot of the distractions and drains of life (like electronics, phone, friends, even where to sit) and adds ways of dealing with stress (earlier bedtime, spending time with parents who can role model, only going places as a family).  

To demonstrate they are ready to get out of the FAIR Club, the child must be RRHAFTBALL and complete their writing assignment and extra chore.  Assignments and consequences are based on the child’s developmental age, Logical Consequences and restitution.  There is a minimum of 24 hours that a child can be in the FAIR Club, but no maximum.  

If a child refuses to do the assignments or be RRHAFTBALL, that is their choice.  They will remain in the FAIR Club until they are ready.

This takes a LOT of pressure off the parent.  Unlike other techniques, you don’t have to nag the child to do the assignment or let a child who is being horrid off grounding just because their time is up.  They will figure out pretty quickly that “fair” is not fun!

Ex:  My two girls were found playing with Bratz dolls that had been confiscated and put in my closet. One of them took them out, but neither ever admitted to it.  Both knew the dolls were confiscated.  The 10 year old is is neurotypical and is not adopted.  The 11 year old was recently adopted, has learning disabilities, (at the time undiagnosed) RAD and bipolar disorder, and emotionally/developmentally about 4 years old – although intellectually she was much closer to grade level.

Writing Assignment- Write down your version of what happened (do NOT work on this with your sister). Because you lied, did something you knew was wrong, and gave us attitude (and maybe stole from us) we no longer feel we can trust you.  List 5 things you can do to rebuild trust with us. How would you feel if we lied, stole, and gave YOU attitude? Why? Why do you think we don’t do this to you?  Write down at least 5 reasons you think we may not like Bratz dolls.

The very bright 10 year old was told this should take at least 3 pages.  She completed the assignment independently.  The 11 year old needed a lot of emotional support throughout the process.  A parent wrote down her answers to the questions and she received a lot of assistance coming up with responses.

My 14 yr old teenage son with RAD who had been caught lying repeatedly and trying to intimidate people into not holding him accountable: 

Extra Chore: You will find a different person every night to help in some way.  Once your writing assignment is complete you need to use the last question to start trying to rebuild trust.

Writing Assignment: _ Read the articles about trust and lies.  Answer all the questions that follow.

Books and Methods Review - Methods - EMDR


What is EMDR?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.  This is a great therapy for people with PTSD (some therapists even say it works for Oppositional Defiant Disorder, but this requires special training for the therapist).  My daughter and I have both used EMDR.  It can be very fast for a single event – like a rape, it usually only takes one or two sessions (obviously for Complex PTSD it takes much longer). You don’t even have to talk about the event(s) if you don’t want to. You do HAVE to have a therapist who specializes in EMDR, trauma, and working with kids. 

Here is the explanation I copied from EMDRIA.ORG:

EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information. Normal information processing is resumed, so following a successful EMDR session, a person no longer relives the images, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. You still remember what happened, but it is less upsetting. Many types of
therapy have similar goals. However, EMDR appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Therefore, EMDR can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way.

When I explain it to clients, I tell them that possibly EMDR is mimicking the bilateral eye movement that occurs in REM sleep (studies indicate that REM sleep plays a key role in memory consolidation.) However, traumatic memories do not get processed in the typical way. Instead of getting fuzzier over time as most memories do, traumatic
memories stay vivid. EMDR helps to move the traumatic memory into the typical processing thus allowing the memory to "soften" in its recollection.

Marythemom:  I have no idea why it works, but I would describe it as distracting your brain from physically re-experiencing the trauma so you can process the event without feeling like you are reliving it.  During a flashback you usually experience rapid heart rate, fear and adrenaline – just as though you’d gone back and were reliving the event – definitely something you would normally avoid.  During therapy, the therapist alternately taps on your hands (or other part of your body like your upper arms) or gives you something that simulates a tap on either side of your body (we use Theratappers which has paddles that alternately vibrate that you can hold in your hand or stick under your thighs).  The therapist can aide you in talking about the traumatic event or you can just visualize the event in your head while you tap. 

Your body does not re-experience the trauma anymore, so you don’t have to fear triggers or the trauma itself.  This allows you to process the event, including accessing the irrational beliefs.  You don’t forget the event.  You just don’t relive it anymore.

Warning:  This doesn’t appear to work as well with younger kids.  It can also open some areas your child may not be ready to process yet.  We tried it one Summer and my daughter could not handle it emotionally.  I will admit thought that this may have been my fault because I took the lead on the therapy (stupid on my part!), and wouldn’t let my daughter dissociate when things got too upsetting for her, but instead kept dragging her back to focus on what we were talking about.  With her many years of trauma, I guess I was impatient looking at how many years of therapy we had ahead of us.  Another reason to have a good experienced EMDR therapist not a therapeutic mom!  When we tried EMDR again a couple of years later it went better.  I’ve also used it to help with my own PTSD and issues.

Finding an EMDR therapist
EMDR International Association
EMDR therapist network

Another person's experience with EMDR

Some more resources:

Books resources
Attachment-Focused EMDR: Healing Relational Trauma - Integrating the latest in attachment theory and research into the use of EMDR.  Much has been written about trauma and neglect and the damage they do to the developing brain. But little has been written or researched about the potential to heal these attachment wounds and address the damage sustained from neglect or poor parenting in early childhood. This book presents a therapy that focuses on precisely these areas. Laurel Parnell, leader and innovator in the field of eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), offers us a way to embrace two often separate worlds of knowing: the science of early attachment relationships and the practice of healing within an EMDR framework. This beautifully written and clinically practical book combines attachment theory, one of the most dynamic theoretical areas in psychotherapy today, with EMDR to teach therapists a new way of healing clients with relational trauma and attachment deficits.

Children books
Butterfly Hugs
Getting Out the Icky's

Books and Methods Review - Methods - Tapping (EFT)

EFT – Emotional Freedom Techniques  aka Tapping

"The cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body's energy system." E.F.T., otherwise known as Tapping or Meridian Tapping, is a combination of Ancient Chinese Acupressure and Modern Psychology. It was developed originally by Roger Callahan in the 1980's and modified and expanded upon by Gary Craig. Since then, thousands of psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors, coaches and individual users have adopted this powerful technique for use on themselves, their clients, family members and more
This simple technique, which literally involves "tapping" on the meridian points of our body while saying certain statements, is providing uniquely powerful results.
It works well for children of trauma (and their parents too!) - regularly puts up videos showing her daughter using this technique very successfully.

Marythemom:  This works really well with traumatized kids (and their parents!), if you can get them to do it.

Books and Methods Review - Methods - Dialectical Behavior Therapy/ Mindfulness

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a system of therapy originally developed by Marsha M. Linehan, a psychology researcher at the University of Washington, to treat people with borderline personality disorder (BPD). DBT combines standard cognitive-behavioral techniques for emotion regulation and reality-testing with concepts of distress tolerance, acceptance, and mindful awareness largely derived from Buddhist meditative practice. 

DBT may be the first therapy that has been experimentally demonstrated to be generally effective in treating BPD. A meta-analysis found that DBT reached moderate effects. 

Research indicates that DBT is also effective in treating patients who present varied symptoms and behaviors associated with spectrum mood disorders, including self-injury (like cutting). Recent work suggests its effectiveness with sexual abuse survivors and chemical dependency. - Wikipedia

Marythemom:  this is an effective therapy that goes beyond CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy), but it does require emotional awareness and cognitive abilities that my own children just don’t have.  It is usually group therapy (although it doesn't have to be) that helps a person do a reality check on their thinking.  It is currently one of the best treatments for Borderline Personality Disorder. Unfortunately, it doesn't work for my children, because they do not have the emotional awareness, cognitive abilities or impulse control that they would need.

DBT Distress Tolerance Skills: Your 6-Skill Guide to Navigate Emotional Crises

We all experience crises in our lives. Sometimes these crises are big, like a divorce, a death, or a layoff. Sometimes these crises are small, like traffic, a long line at check out, or not knowing what to wear that day. DBT distress tolerance skills help you get to a more manageable emotional place for crisis survival.

You’re at your emotional breaking point. Maybe the worst has happened, or maybe it was just the “last straw”. The DBT distress tolerance skill you need is TIPP. This skill is designed to bring you down from the metaphorical (hopefully not literal) ledge.

TIPP stands for Temperature, Intense exercise, Paced breathing, and Paired muscle relaxation.


When we’re upset, our bodies often feel hot. To counter this, splash your face with cold water, hold an ice cube, or let the car’s AC blow on your face. Changing your body temperature will help you cool down—both physically and emotionally.


Do intense exercise to match your intense emotion. You’re not a marathon runner? That’s okay, you don’t need to be. Sprint down to the end of the street, jump in the pool for a few laps, or do jumping jacks until you’ve tired yourself out. Increasing oxygen flow helps decrease stress levels. Plus, it’s hard to stay dangerously upset when you’re exhausted.


Even something as simple as controlling your breath can have a profound impact on reducing emotional pain. There are many different types of breathing exercises. If you have a favorite, breathe it out. If you don’t, try a technique called “box breathing”. Each breath interval will be four seconds long. Take in air four seconds, hold it in four seconds, breathe out four, and hold four. And then start again. Continue to focus on this breathing pattern until you feel more calm. Steady breathing reduces your body’s fight or flight response.


The science of paired muscle relaxation is fascinating. When you tighten a voluntary muscle, relax it, and allow it to rest, the muscle will become more relaxed than it was before it was tightened. Relaxed muscles require less oxygen, so your breathing and heart rate will slow down.1
Try this technique by focusing on a group of muscles, such as the muscles in your arms. Tighten the muscles as much as you can for five seconds. Then let go of the tension. Let the muscles relax, and you’ll begin to relax, as well.

The distress tolerance skills in TIPP will bring you a step closer to wise mind, where you will be able to make a constructive choice and cope productively.

This is a good article for more skills - DBT Distress Tolerance Skills: Your 6-Skill Guide to Navigate Emotional Crises

DBT Books

Marythemom: I haven't reviewed any of these books.  I just got some binders from the treatment center Kitty went to.  

This is a list of DBT/ Mindfulness books I got from Amazon:

The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook: Practical DBT Exercises for Learning Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation & ... Tolerance 

by Matthew McKay (Author), Jeffrey C. Wood (Author), Jeffrey Brantley (Author)
A Clear and Effective Approach to Learning DBT Skills - First developed for treating borderline personality disorder, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) has proven effective as treatment for a range of other mental health problems, especially for those characterized by overwhelming emotions. Research shows that DBT can improve your ability to handle distress without losing control and acting destructively. In order to make use of these techniques, you need to build skills in four key areas-distress tolerance, mindfulness, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.

The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook
A collaborative effort from three esteemed authors- offers straightforward, step-by-step exercises for learning these concepts and putting them to work for real and lasting change. Start by working on the introductory exercises and, after making progress, move on to the advanced-skills chapters. Whether you are a professional or a general reader, whether you use this book to support work done in therapy or as the basis for self-help, you'll benefit from this clear and practical guide to better managing your emotions.
This book has been awarded The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Self-Help Seal of Merit — an award bestowed on outstanding self-help books that are consistent with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) principles and that incorporate scientifically tested strategies for overcoming mental health difficulties. Used alone or in conjunction with therapy, our books offer powerful tools readers can use to jump-start changes in their lives.

Temper tantrums in the supermarket. Tears that seem to come out of nowhere. Battles over homework that are more like wars. When your child has problems regulating his or her emotions, there's no hiding it. Children with intense emotions go from 0 to 100 in seconds and are prone to frequent emotional and behavioral outbursts that leave parents feeling bewildered and helpless.
Other parents may have told you that it's just a phase or that your child needs discipline. In reality, your child may have emotion dysregulation, a tendency to react intensely to situations other children take in stride. Parenting a Child Who Has Intense Emotions is an effective guide to de-escalating your child's emotions and helping your child express feelings in productive ways. You'll learn strategies drawn from dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), including mindfulness and validation skills, and practice them when your child's emotions spin out of control. This well-researched method for managing emotions can help your child make dramatic emotional and behavioral changes that both of you will be proud of.

Many of us are walking around half unconscious to who we are and what makes us truly happy. This costs us in terms of missed opportunities to experience the thrill of life, not being able to tap into the source of our power, wandering aimlessly and searching for a better life, and feeling disconnected from our Self, our loved ones and the world. It doesn't take much for you to wake up, become mindfully aware in the moment, and respond authentically to life. When you let your whole life become a meditation in progress, you don't need to take much extra time or go out of your way to create the rich, rewarding, and enjoyable life that is meant to be yours. This book is stripped down to the basic essence of mindfulness meditation, offering 85 simple practices that will quickly help you: - find the juice and joy inside and all around you; - find the strength to take whatever you do to the next level; - find your core purpose so you always make the right choices; - find the courage to follow your heart and love deeply; and - ultimately, find your inner peace.

This groundbreaking book gives clinicians a new set of tools for helping people overcome binge-eating disorder and bulimia. It presents an adaptation of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) developed expressly for this population. The treatment is unique in approaching disordered eating as a problem of emotional dysregulation. Featuring vivid case examples and 32 reproducibles, the book shows how to put an end to binge eating and purging by teaching clients more adaptive ways to manage painful emotions. Step-by-step guidelines are provided for implementing DBT skills training in mindfulness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance, including a specially tailored skill, mindful eating.

Though acceptance and mindfulness interventions have proven enormously effective for adults with stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues, they have not been fully documented for use with children and adolescents. And yet they are a natural fit for children's therapy-the focus on acceptance and mindfulness builds children's psychological flexibility, and the values component of these methods helps young people learn to set goals and take action to achieve them.

The chapters in Acceptance and Mindfulness Treatments for Children and Adolescents show how to modify third-wave behavioral and cognitive therapy methods for the treatment of children and adolescents. This book also considers the early evidence for the adaptability and effectiveness of these methods. Edited by two luminaries in the field of third-wave behavior therapy, these essays will be invaluable in helping young patients reap the benefits of acceptance and mindfulness approaches such as acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR).

  • Learn how ACT, DBT, MBCT, and MBSR can be used with young people and their families
  • Discover recent third-wave behavior therapy research
  • Explore the practice issues that arise when acceptance and mindfulness techniques are used with children and adolescents
  • Find out how to put these techniques to work in your own practice

The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook for Bipolar Disorder: Using DBT to Regain Control of Your Emotions and Your Life (New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook) 

by Sheri Van Dijk MSW
Even if you've just been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it's likely that you've been living with it for a long time. You've probably already developed your own ways of coping with recurring depression, the consequences of manic episodes, and the constant, uncomfortable feeling that you're at the mercy of your emotions. Some of these methods may work; others might do more harm than good. The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook for Bipolar Disorder will help you integrate your coping skills with a new and effective dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) plan for living well with bipolar disorder.

The four DBT skills you'll learn in this workbook-mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness-will help you manage your emotional ups and downs and minimize the frequency and intensity of depressive and manic episodes. By using this book in conjunction with medication and professional care, you'll soon experience relief from your bipolar symptoms and come to enjoy the calm and confident feeling of being in control.

  • Learn mindfulness and acceptance skills
  • Cope with depressive and manic episodes in healthy ways
  • Manage difficult emotions and impulsive urges
  • Maintain relationships with friends and family members

Don't Let Your Emotions Run Your Life for Teens: Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills for Helping You Manage Mood Swings, Control Angry Outbursts, and get along with Others (Instant Help Book for Teens) 

by Sheri Van Dijk MSW
Let's face it: life gives you plenty of reasons to get angry, sad, scared, and frustrated-and those feelings are okay. But sometimes it can feel like your emotions are taking over, spinning out of control with a mind of their own. To make matters worse, these overwhelming emotions might be interfering with school, causing trouble in your relationships, and preventing you from living a happier life.
Don't Let Your Emotions Run Your Life for Teens is a workbook that can help. In this book, you'll find new ways of managing your feelings so that you'll be ready to handle anything life sends your way. Based in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), a type of therapy designed to help people who have a hard time handling their intense emotions, this workbook helps you learn the skills you need to ride the ups and downs of life with grace and confidence.

DBT Therapists and psychiatrists 

Psychology Today - I really like using this website for searching for therapists/psychiatrist, because it allows me to choose based on location (search by city or zip code), specialties (child and adolescent, EMDR, trauma…), insurance (do they accept Medicaid, BCBS, UBH…?), you can even search by gender (I have a child who can’t have a male therapist).  Do be aware that they have to pay to be on this list so it's not likely to have every therapist available.