CHOC Mental Health Education Program | School-Based Staff – Dialectical Behavior Therapy

CHOC Mental Health Education Program

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Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a type of therapy founded for the most complex and severe of patients and yet, DBT skills have since been shown to be widely applicable to a broad range of people. In fact, DBT skills have been shown by research to be effective with youth as young as 6 years old all the way through adulthood. While youth at any time in history can benefit from learning coping skills, the youth of today are in particularly dire need. This presentation introduces guiding principles that help make DBT skills so successful, and uses information about the brain, emotions, and human development to illustrate their power. The presentation will then outline a set of skills to increase flexibility and balance in the lives of youth, abilities that improve resilience and overall wellness. Even though it may sound mystical, DBT skills are concrete, easy to understand, and fun to coach youth to use. At their core, DBT skills teach people how to respond to stress and strong emotions, and how to live their happiest, healthiest lives; and that sounds like exactly what we are all looking for!

Date: April 27, 2022

Time: 1st Session 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. | Breakout Sessions 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Location: Zoom

Target Audience: All School Staff

Languages Available: English

Launched in July 2017, CHOC’s Mental Health Education Program (MHEP) and our team of pediatric mental health specialists have provided hundreds of educational sessions to thousands of community members, including youth, parents, educators, and providers. Through our presentations and trainings, we strive to partner with and equip our community stakeholders with the needed knowledge, tools, and resources to support the wellness of our County’s children, adolescents, and young adults. If you have any questions about our educational offerings, please contact our MHEP team at


1st Session: Kids and Teens and Substance Use: You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know | 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Audience: All School Staff

A Child and Adolescent Mental Health expert from CHOC Hospital of Orange County will talk with school staff about how to identify when a student may be using and/or engaging in substance use and what next steps can look like. This large session outlines specific, small steps to help support the students in your school community.

Presenter: Micaela Thordarson, PhD


  • Attendees will understand the basic guiding principles for applying DBT skills
  • Attendees will learn the biological and social functions of emotion
  • Attendees will learn skills related to flexibility and balance that can be applied in a wide range of student settings


Breakout Session I – Using YOUR Skills to Enhance Student Mental Health | 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Audience: Student-Facing School-Based Staff

With the numerous and ever-increasing demands on teachers and school staff, it can seem overwhelming and impossible to learn *new* things and add *more* to those overflowing plates. This presentation outlines ways attendees can capitalize on their existing skill sets, with minimal effort, to have big impacts on student mental health. In addition, attendees will learn creative approaches to their daily demands that are designed to improve studentsТ wellness and, along with that, attendance, performance, and perhaps even participation! Teachers using these strategies often report that students seem to feel happier and that has immediate benefits for their wellness too!!

Presenter: Micaela Thordarson, PhD


  • Attendees will identify ways they can impact student mental health using strategies and skills they already have
  • Attendees will learn minor changes they may choose to make to their class settings to increase participation, motivation, and overall wellness


Breakout Session II – Master the Skills for Student Mental Health Crises: A DBT Perspective | 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Audience: School-Based Clinical Staff

Presenter: Scott Ryan, LMFT


  • Use student mood rating to inform your response
  • Learn skills that target moderate & intense emotional crisis in students
  • Support students to tolerate unpleasant emotions
  • Teach students how to decrease the impact of intense emotions