New Tweens Skills Group Helps with Emotions, Relationships, and Mental Health

It may feel like overnight your tween grew quills and became a porcupine; bristling at the slightest trigger. And as in many other aspects of the tween life, mental and behavioral health are often overlooked by providers even though the social and emotional changes of the tween years can be extremely intense for families.

While your tween’s brain is working on developing the ability to use rational thought (something it will work on until age 25), your tween is still processing information with their amygdala, or the emotional center of the brain. However, their desire for independence is growing exponentially, making it difficult for parents to guide their tweens through difficult emotions and peer-interactions.

Although the tween years are a great time to introduce your entire family to the skills that can be learned from Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (better know as DBT), there are limited mental health resources for tweens. In order to fill this major gap, Julia Rolf, LCSW of Two Rivers Therapy, Beth Rosenwasser, PhD, and Fairmount Pediatrics are teaming up to offer a 10 week DBT Skills group for tweens.

In this group, tween will learn about and practice specific DBT skills like mindfulness, how to validate others, and how to reduce black and white thinking. The overall goal of the group is to help tweens feel like they are more in control of their emotions, to improve inter-personal relationships, and improve overall health and mood.

This group is designed to be used alongside individual and or family therapy. While it is incredibly important for tweens to have a setting to learn about and experiment with DBT skills, it is also important that their families are able to reinforce the skills at home.

Julia Rolf, founder of Two Rivers Therapy, has been working with families in Philadelphia for almost a decade. In that time, she has seen how health and mental health systems often promote the idea that professionals hold the key to improving a child’s behavior. As a family therapist, Rolf works to teach important skills to children and teens while also helping parents learn how they can shepherd their children through life’s difficulties. Her goal is often to help parents make that shift:

“Parents often think their job is to protect their children from harm. While this can sometimes be the case in parenting, it is unreasonable to assume that we can protect our children from everything. Instead, we do what we can to keep them safe and guide them through the times that we cannot,” she says.

Of course, hugging and comforting a porcupine can be very difficult, but showing your tween how to lower their quills is what DBT is all about. You can email to schedule an intake and for more information about the group which is starting in September at Fairmount Pediatrics.

This post was created in partnership with Two Rivers Therapy.