Description: This book applies the principles of dialectical behavior therapy to suicidal adolescents. It is a pragmatic approach to a high-risk population and the appendixes are full of exercises, handouts, and lecture points.
Purpose: According to the authors, "this book focuses on treating those suicidal adolescents who exhibit multiple problem behaviors. The book definitely meets the authors' objectives."
Audience: The authors target "the thousands of mental health professionals who, on a daily basis, are confronted with the challenging task of attempting to provide effective treatment for suicidal multiproblem adolescents." They continue, "this book belongs on the desks of a wide range of mental health practitioners, including clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, and clinical social workers. It may serve as a text in graduate-level courses and clinical practica." Dr. Miller, an associate professor at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine, has numerous publications and has conducted over 200 lectures and workshops on DBT. Dr. Rathus, an associate professor at Long Island University/C.W. Post Campus, has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and chapters on DBT, adolescent suicide, and other topics. Dr. Linehan, professor of psychology and adjunct professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington, developed DBT from CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) while she was treating individuals with suicidal and self-injurious behaviors.
Features: The first of the book's 12 splendid chapters introduces the problem of suicidal behavior in adolescents and provides a brief description of DBT. The other chapters then provide the framework and specifics of how to intervene. Chapter 8 on individual therapy is exemplifies the wonderful features of this book. It walks readers through a session, with illustrative figures and tables, as well as interesting case material. It is useful to both the novice and veteran therapist. I felt like I was receiving supervision on the application of DBT in the way the book is organized and written. Three appendixes are filled with exercises, lecture and discussion points, and handouts. This is a very readable and practical book, in the long tradition of therapeutic intervention volumes from Guilford Publications.
Assessment: This is must reading for those working with an adolescent population. DBT is an effective strategy in attempting to address suicidal and parasuicidal behavior. The authors make it clear that the clients they are trying to help often have multiple problem behaviors. The book does not pretend that there are easy answers, but it does walk readers through this difficult process and provides hope, evident in the final statement of the last chapter: "Together, the efforts of the clinical and research communities will increase this treatment's ability to help suicidal, multiproblem adolescents build lives worth living."