doctor talking to a patient about a dialectical behavioral therapy program in mississippiMuch like breaking any bad habit, overcoming a substance use disorder or a mental health disorder requires breaking the problematic behavior patterns and replacing them with positive ones. It is often difficult enough to break a conscious habit, so how can your teen overcome habits that they cannot control, like substance use and mental health struggles? This is where a dialectical behavior therapy program, or “DBT,” becomes essential.

At Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center, we recognize that many teens will struggle to overcome their addiction alone. However, they don’t have to. When you send your teen to our residential substance use treatment program, we will use holistic and evidence-based practices to help them heal. To learn more about our addiction treatment programs for adolescent boys, please reach out to Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center today at 662.373.2828.


Many habits are healthy (like getting on a regular sleep schedule) or neutral (like double-checking that the door is locked before leaving the house). However, some patterns are harmful, and some habits are addictive. Teen substance use is one such habit that can quickly become problematic. Substance use can start as a simple routine: a shot of liquor to ease nerves at a party, taking an Adderall to focus before an exam, or taking a hit of marijuana from a vape pen to relax or sleep. First, your teen’s body begins to expect the drug in specific situations. Then, they’ll build a tolerance, requiring more drugs or alcohol to get the same effect. Once their body has become tolerant, your teen may develop dependence and cravings as their brain gets used to being drunk or high regularly.

Mental health struggles can work similarly. Pathways in the brain that regulate mood and emotion are out of balance, resulting in disorders like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or an eating disorder. The imbalances lead to negative behavior patterns, unintentional habits such as:


Fear responses

Mood swings

Poor nutrition

Neglected self-care

Dialectical behavior therapy can help your teen identify the poor habits that they’ve developed. They can then begin to create healthier habits.

“The founders of Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center have established a recovery center with dedicated clinicians and staff. They have created a nurturing oasis that is tailor-made to each child with the sole goal of providing a strong foundation for each child’s success. They are not only committed to the child, but to the families as well. Stonewater is like none other in the United States and worthy of your consideration.”


Jamie Bankhead


DBT is a form of psychotherapy that uses one-on-one and group conversations to analyze and change negative behavior patterns. It helps participants gain more conscious control over their actions by breaking down the physical and psychological mechanisms behind harmful habits into distinct, manageable pieces. DBT can help teens build a range of skills, including:

  • Mindfulness, or self-awareness and intentional actions
  • Interpersonal effectiveness, meaning healthy boundaries, clear communication, and empathy
  • Emotional regulation, such as developing constructive emotional outlets and managing physical influences on mood
  • Distress tolerance, which includes trigger identification and positive coping mechanisms

Participants learn to express themselves appropriately, anticipate triggers and responses, effectively communicate their needs, and build healthy coping and self-soothing habits. The goal of DBT is to ensure that any time an individual is at risk of falling into a negative behavior pattern, they are capable of recognizing their risk. Then, they can take steps to minimize it and ultimately avoid the behavior altogether. This practice can apply to any range of behaviors, from substance use to panic attacks to anger management.


DBT practices have been carefully formed through years of research and study by doctors, scientists, and other mental health professionals. This treatment is a proven, effective method based on clinical evidence that people can change their behaviors, no matter how deeply rooted in their psyche those behaviors may be. While its creator developed DBT to help individuals struggling with borderline personality disorder and self-harm behaviors, its principles are appropriate for a wide range of mental health concerns and substance use disorders.

The applicability of DBT practices for substance use has made it a buzzword among treatment centers. However, not every center offering DBT adheres to its most vetted practices. Accrediting institutions have created a set of certified therapies and skills that are standard in high-quality DBT treatment. At Stonewater, we have carefully crafted a unique DBT model with DBT-certified techniques specifically chosen to optimize our therapeutic modalities for teens struggling with substance use and co-occurring disorders.


Stonewater believes in enacting lasting change for the adolescents we treat. Every young person in our program has so much to offer. The treatment we provide ensures they can leave substance use behind to lead a fulfilling life. DBT is the key that unlocks our residents’ full potential: it allows them to be more self-aware, empathetic, and in control, and it instills long-term healthy physical and psychological habits.

Our approach to DBT is entirely proprietary to our program. We intentionally incorporate elements of the certified DBT model. Not only as specific therapies but also as a broader ethos underlying everything we do. DBT relies on active dialogue, self-acceptance, and a willingness to work with others. This treatment depends on both the resident and the therapist. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) programs generate an environment of respect, teamwork, and open-mindedness that encourages self-directed engagement, particularly among the age group we treat.

Part 1: Individual Introduction

Each resident’s first session with their therapist receives an individualized DBT orientation that includes an overview of DBT and what it looks like at Stonewater. They will also receive information about how this model promotes acceptance, change, and long-term skill development. This orientation is an opportunity for therapists to start an ongoing conversation with the resident. We do not intend to be a lecture or a set of instructions. Instead, it’s an invitation to participate in the recovery process.

Part 2: Educational and Practical Modules

The official DBT model has more than 30 skills that help individuals establish healthier habits. At Stonewater, we focus on eight of these skills most relevant to our residents during their 60- to 90-day stays. Our goal is to ensure that every resident masters these eight skills thoroughly. This way, they can leave our program and confidently implement them in everyday life right away. Within the first month of treatment, we introduce all eight skills through rotating therapy modules. Then, we reinforce through module repetition, practical applications, and our other therapeutic modalities over the following weeks.


In DBT, the word “dialectic” refers to a philosophical mode of debate in which two people contribute equally to a conversation through questions and answers. At Stonewater, we believe that every person is on equal footing. We believe everyone at our treatment center deserves equal respect, dignity, and empathy. DBT reinforces this mentality among our team and our residents. We see the difference every day in the way every member of our community interacts with one another. We can utilize DBT alongside a range of additional treatment options, including:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Fly fishing therapy
  • Experiential therapy

If you, your child, or an adolescent in your life requires treatment for substance use or co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders, please reach out to Stonewater today. Our dialectical behavior therapy program (DBT) is located in Oxford, Mississippi, and admissions are open to teen boys between the ages of 12 to18.


At Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center, we’re committed to providing effective, long-lasting treatment for every teen in our community. With treatment options such as our peer influence community and dialectical behavior therapy program, we help our teens develop solid relationships and make healthy life choices. Our treatment center is equipped to treat a range of conditions, including programs such as:

Alcohol use disorder

Heroin use disorder

Marijuana use disorder

Adderall use disorder

Opioid use disorder

For more information about how our team can help your teen, please contact Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center today at 662.373.2828.