WISE Teens

Mental Health Does Not Currently Meet Criteria

WISE Teens is an adaptation of Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training for Emotional Problem Solving for Adolescents (DBT STEPS-A) designed for teens in middle and high school. WISE Teens is an abbreviated version of the DBT STEPS-A curriculum that aims to help teens “build a life worth living” by developing skills such as emotion management, relationship building, and decision-making skills to help them navigate challenging situations and stressors that can arise during adolescence. WISE Teens’ approach is grounded in the idea that two seemingly opposing facts can both be true, most notably that the curriculum’s goals include both acceptance and change. WISE Teens instructors strive to help participants both accept themselves and make changes in their behavior.


WISE Teens includes two key components: (1) group skills training and (2) consultation team meetings. During the group skills training component, instructors teach behavioral skills to groups of teens over four modules: (1) mindfulness, (2) distress tolerance, (3) emotion regulation, and (4) interpersonal effectiveness. The mindfulness and distress tolerance modules focus on building acceptance-oriented skills while the emotion regulation and interpersonal effectiveness modules focus on building change-oriented skills. In the mindfulness module, instructors emphasize accepting current circumstances and being present. In the distress tolerance module, instructors instruct teens on how to accept and tolerate painful situations. In the emotion regulation module, instructors focus on helping teens learn to be less susceptible to painful emotions. Finally, in the interpersonal effectiveness module, instructors strive to help teens learn to ask for what they want, to say no when necessary, and to maintain respectful relationships with themselves and others. During the consultation team meetings, instructors discuss any implementation challenges and receive support designed to improve their capacity to deliver the curriculum. 

WISE Teens does not currently meet criteria to receive a rating because no studies of the program achieved a rating of moderate or high on design and execution.

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed: May 2024


The following sources informed the program or service description, target population, and program or service delivery and implementation information: the program or service manual, and the program or service developer’s website.

This information does not necessarily represent the views of the program or service developers. For more information on how this program or service was reviewed, visit the Review Process page or download the Handbook.

Target Population

WISE Teens is designed for teens in middle and high school. 


Instructors deliver WISE Teens for 8 weeks. Instructors typically deliver 50–60-minute weekly sessions to groups of teens. Instructors provide two sessions on each of the four skills modules. 

Instructor consultation teams meet weekly for 60–90 minutes throughout the program period. 

Location/Delivery Setting
Recommended Locations/Delivery Settings

Instructors deliver WISE Teens in school settings.

Education, Certifications and Training

Instructors are typically general education teachers or school personnel, such as health teachers, school counselors, school psychologists, or social workers. 

DBT STEPS-A training is recommended for instructors. The 3-day DBT STEPS-A training provides a comprehensive overview of DBT STEPS-A sessions, describes implementation strategies, identifies potential challenges and solutions for delivering the curriculum and supporting students, and provides instructors with opportunities to practice delivering the curriculum with other training participants.

Program or Service Documentation
Book/Manual/Available documentation used for review

The University of Sydney. (n.d.) WISE Teens adapted DBT-STEPS A Program.  Retrieved December 18, 2023.

Available languages

The WISE Teens manual is available in English.

Other supporting materials

DBT Certification Information

Note: The details on Dosage; Location; Education, Certifications, and Training; Other Supporting Materials; and For More Information sections above are provided to website users for informational purposes only. This information is not exhaustive and may be subject to change.

Results of Search and Review Number of Studies Identified and Reviewed for WISE Teens
Identified in Search 1
Eligible for Review 1
Rated High 0
Rated Moderate 0
Rated Low 1
Reviewed Only for Risk of Harm 0
Sometimes study results are reported in more than one document, or a single document reports results from multiple studies. Studies are identified below by their Prevention Services Clearinghouse study identification numbers. To receive a rating of supported or well-supported, the favorable evidence for a program or service must have been obtained from research conducted in a usual care or practice setting.

Studies Rated Low

Study 15129

Harvey, L. J., White, F. A., Hunt, C., & Abbott, M. (2023). Investigating the efficacy of a Dialectical Behaviour Therapy-based universal intervention on adolescent social and emotional well-being outcomes. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 169, Article 104408. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2023.104408

This study received a low rating because baseline equivalence of the intervention and comparison groups was necessary and not demonstrated.