CBT/DBT for School Avoidance
Effective treatment for school avoidance requires intervention across many levels. In addition to teaching youth how to cope with the problems that are leading them to avoid school, the intervention often requires working with an entire system.
Parents need support to help them understand and validate their child’s experience while still setting effective limits around school attendance. Similarly, the school needs support in employing validation techniques while using the same intervention taught to the youth in therapy. As such, treatment for school avoidance typically requires a parent and school coach to work in conjunction with an individual therapist.
Individual treatment focuses on identifying the core problem resulting in school avoidance and helping the individual build skills to cope with it. This frequently involves teaching the youth DBT skills to regulate their emotions while using CBT strategies to approach any anxiety they might have.
Youth are also given a “functional communication” response to help them more effectively communicate distress to their parents. Parents are coached on a shaping procedure that when used in conjunction helps them reinforce their child’s use of skills and effectively increase school attendance without battle.