Piloting a dialectical behavioural therapy-based skills with New Zealand youth in care using three case studies : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Psychology at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand

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Massey University
Children in care are a complicated and vulnerable population. Youth who live in the care of the State often present with behaviours that are challenging to manage and which leave those around them struggling, whether they are caregivers or peers. Behaviour such as shown by these youth, is commonly thought to be an expression of emotional dysregulation or an attempt to regulate emotions. Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) is a therapy designed to support clients with extreme emotional dysregulation whose behaviour can be similar to what is observed in youth in care. DBT skills groups as a standalone intervention have been shown to support youth with emotional dysregulation and the resulting behavioural difficulties. The aim of the current research is to understand the experiences of New Zealand youth in care participating in a DBT based skills group. The research uses three case studies to explore each participant’s engagement with the activities and skills individually throughout the eight sessions. This will be done using in-group observations, what they thought and felt about the group and whether staff working with the young people identified any behavioural changes. Preliminary results demonstrated positive engagement with the skills, noted positive change from those working with the young people, as well as positive reports of behavioural change and increased understanding from the participants themselves.
Dialectical behavior therapy, New Zealand, Case studies, Behavior disorders in adolescence, Treatment, Problem youth, Behavior modification, Youth, Institutional care