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CFS's Steve Roggenbaum Hosts Presentation on Helping to Reduce Self-Harming and Suicidal Behavior Among Adolescents

Stephen Roggenbaum from the USF Department of Child & Family Studies hosted a two-hour presentation on the overview of DBT STEPS-A (Skills Training for Emotional Problem Solving for Adolescents). Dr. James Mazza from the University of Washington presented Helping Students Help Themselves: Incorporating the DBT STEPS-A Curriculum in Middle and High Schoolson on April 3 for a number of school district staff and state education representatives. He provided an interactive discussion about DBT STEPS-A and its structure in offering New Hope for schools in addressing students’ needs that focus on emotion regulation, particularly in self-harming and/or suicidal behavior.

"There is new hope in bringing upstream approaches to middle and high schools in helping to reduce self-harming and suicidal behavior among adolescents," said Roggenbaum. "Dr. Mazza focused on the rationale for developing the curriculum, implementation issues and strategies, and barriers that have been identified in school-based settings."

With suicide the 2nd leading cause of death among adolescents and the increased prevalence of self-harming behavior, schools need to think “outside-the-box” and identify proactive approaches that address Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and student mental health issues.

DBT STEPS-A is a social emotional learning curriculum designed to teach middle and high school adolescents (ages 12-19 years-old) decision-making and coping strategies, especially under emotionally stressful times.  The curriculum is designed at the universal level to be taught by general education teachers who have some mental health awareness, such as a health teacher.  DBT STEPS-A also has been successfully implemented at the Tier II & III levels, with added strategies to help provide services to students with more intensive needs. The lessons are manualized and structured for 50 minute-periods, however flexibility is also encouraged if there are examples that better fit the skills being taught. 

The foundation of the curriculum is based on the skills components of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT: Linehan, 1993; 2015), which provides an empirically-based structure for helping students learn and practice the different skills components.


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