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December 11, 2019
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Suzanne Davino, Ph.D., director of DBT Intensive Programs at Cognitive Behavioral Consultants, which has an office in White Plains.
Suzanne Davino, Ph.D., director of DBT Intensive Programs at Cognitive Behavioral Consultants, which has an office in White Plains. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Cognitive Behavioral Counsultants

Westchester Therapist Says Parents Need To Pay Attention To Signs Before Crisis

Often it is not until older kids have an emergency that parents seek professional support for emotional problems.

"It's hard and confusing as a consumer to figure out what's out there and what works if you're in a crisis," said Suzanne Davino, Ph.D., director of DBT Intensive Programs at Cognitive Behavioral Consultants, which has an office in White Plains.

Davino is a licensed clinical psychologist and provides CBT and DBT through individual, family, couple and group modalities to clients of all ages.

She talked recently to Daily Voice Plus about some of the issues that arise in teens and college age young adults.

Davino conducts a Skills for Promoting Success workshop series at CBC in which she helps parents of young adults that need support to regulate emotions and impulses. 

The series provides education to family members on understanding emotion regulations and how to achieve it, help parents learn how to understand problem behaviors among teens and why the continue, learn how to promote effective communication, and improve emotional function.

Parents of teens with emotional challenges can feel overwhelmed, Davino understands.

"You're not going to be learning a whole system for some kinds of problems. You're going to ask it it's not necessarily a system that has data behind it that could work. While you're trying to find the solution, you're trying to  manage the problem and fund all of this," she said.

College age teens struggling to adjust to life away from home sometimes come back on school breaks needing emotional support, Davino said.

These young adults may need help with time  management, planning and strategizing. These are called executive function, she noted.

For older kids attention is paid to time management, planning, strategizing. These are executive function.

"Our practice at CBC is devoted to helping young people with emotional dysregulation. It's not just being upset but acting on that upset feeling to the point that you get in your own way a lot," said Davino.

Some of the signs a college-age child may have emotional problems may be not going to class, dropping classes, self-injuring and substance use.

Some people use substances to avoid problems while other people may get angry and act on their anger, Davino continued.

"Especially college age kids have a unique thing going on. They're at an age where they're trying to separate from mom and dad. But those mood-based problems can get in the way of getting off the internet at 2 o'clock in the morning, getting a healthy meal, finding a way not to be on top of your college-age kids, not always monitoring them."

The key for parents of older children is to pay attention to the "danger signals" before a crisis happens, Davino said.

"Sometimes kids do call their parents when they're having trouble, but it's intermittent. A college is not necessarily going to reach out to parents. It sort of develops more in an emergency situation. Parents hear about it when it becomes a crisis situation. If you're a parent and once this happens parents say they should have known, they should have been watching more."