Dialectical Behavior Therapy for School Refusal: Treatment Development and Incorporation of Web-Based Coaching

Brian C. Chu, Shireen L. Rizvi, Elaina A. Zendegui, Lauren Bonavitacola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Youth school refusal is a significant societal problem with broad negative long-term consequences, yet few treatments have been developed for this population. This paper reports on the development and implementation of a novel treatment program, Dialectical Behavior Therapy for School Refusal (DBT-SR), that attempts to address limitations in both existing treatment models and current delivery systems. DBT-SR employs a multimodal approach to directly address the severe emotional and behavioral dysregulation mechanisms maintaining school refusal behavior. It also incorporates a web-based coaching component to provide active, real-time skills coaching to youth and parents at the times, and in the context, of greatest need (at home, during morning hours). A pilot trial and illustrative case examples provide "proof of concept" that DBT-SR is reasonably feasible and acceptable to clients and therapists and that web-based coaching provides incremental, unique benefit. Significant development remains, as participant recruitment proved a challenge in this trial. However, results suggest that DBT-SR is a promising, novel intervention that deserves further development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-330
Number of pages14
JournalCognitive and Behavioral Practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology


  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • School refusal
  • Web-based coaching

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