DBT Skills in Schools: Skills Training for Emotional Problem Solving for Adolescents (DBT STEPS-A) is a universal social emotional learning (SEL) curriculum designed for middle/high school students in educational settings.
The DBT STEPS-A curriculum is designed to help adolescents develop coping strategies and decision-making abilities under emotional distress. The DBT STEPS-A curriculum is based on the skills of comprehensive Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) that have shown to be effective with both adults and adolescents experiencing mild to severe levels of emotional and behavioral difficulties.
The primary population is Tier I of a multi-tier or RTI system, however, it has been effective at all levels of MTSS implementation.
The training design of DBT STEPS-A curriculum is to establish four basic elements necessary in implementing the curriculum effectively:
- Background and Development of the DBT STEPS-A curriculum.
- Structure and Implementation Considerations.
- Overview and demonstration of DBT STEPS-A lessons.
- Preparation and participant practice of teaching DBT STEPS-A lessons.
Elizabeth T. Dexter-Mazza, PsyD
Dr. Elizabeth Dexter-Mazza is a certified DBT therapist and co-author of the DBT STEPS-A social emotional learning curriculum for middle and high school students. She received her doctoral degree from the School of Professional Psychology at Pacific University in 2004 and completed her predoctoral internship at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center’s Adolescent Depression and Suicide Program. Lizz completed her postdoctoral fellowship under the direction of Dr. Marsha Linehan at the University of Washington. Lizz is a licensed psychologist and owner of both Mazza Consulting & Psychological Services, LLC and DBT in Schools, LLC. She provides training and consultation to mental health providers and schools around the world.
James J. Mazza, Ph.D.
Dr. James J. Mazza is the co-author of the DBT STEPS-A social emotional learning curriculum for middle and high school students. He received his masters and Ph.D. in school psychology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He is a professor at the University of Washington – Seattle where he has been teaching and conducting research over the past 25 years in the field of adolescent mental health. Jim is the past president of the American Association of Suicidology from 2005-2007 and is still actively involved in trying to help school psychologists play a major role in helping to prevent suicidal and self-harming behavior among students. His current research focuses on the implementation of DBT STEPS-A (Skills Training for Emotional Problem Solving for Adolescents). Jim has also developed two college-level courses that focus on resilience and wellness. Jim continues to expand the use of DBT STEPS-A and is in the development of providing a new curriculum designed for elementary students.
Paul Reinert, Ph.D.
Paul Reinert, Ph.D., is currently an Assistant Professor in Educational Leadership at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Paul has worked in public education for 34 years as a high school and junior high school science teacher, middle-level school counselor, and K-12 administrator at the elementary, middle, high school, and central office levels. Paul taught a variety of educational leadership courses at both the masters and doctoral levels. In addition, Paul teaches a wellness and resilience course to first-year students that is built on the DBT-STEPS curriculum. Paul has been a member of the DBT in Schools team since the spring of 2019, offering trainings around the country in the DBT STEPS-A curriculum. Paul holds a B.S. from the University of Scranton, Secondary Education/General Science, an M.S. from the University of Scranton, School Counseling; a Secondary Principal’s Certification from Marywood University; and a Ph.D. from Marywood University, Human Development with a Specialization in Education Administration.