Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Juvenile delinquents-Rehabilitation, Dialectical behavior therapy, Post-traumatic stress disorder in adolescence-Treatment, Antisocial personality disorders-Treatment, DBT, Mindfulness, Juvenile delinquency, Trauma, PTSD, Anti-social


Youth within the U.S. juvenile justice system are among the most traumatized. There is a need for trauma sensitive treatment in order to address the mental health needs of traumatized, delinquent youth and prevent re-traumatization within the juvenile justice system. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a promising treatment for juvenile delinquents with trauma histories. This thesis posits that DBT for delinquent youth supports rehabilitation through the mechanism of mindfulness by targeting posttraumatic stress reactions, which in turn may reduce anti-social behaviors. A review of the literature appears to support the hypothesis that through decreased experiential avoidance and enhanced emotional regulation skills, delinquent youth learn life-long skills that lead to improved social relationships, long-term behavioral change, and ultimately the likelihood of reduced recidivism. Implications for practice and policy across the social service and juvenile justice disciplines are discussed, including a working model from the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS) that has implemented DBT with juvenile delinquents in both short-term and long-term treatment.




ii, 33 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2010. Includes bibliographical references (p. 23-33)