Date of Submission

Spring 2015

Academic Programs and Concentrations


Project Advisor 1

Amy Winecoff

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Objective: This proposed study investigates the effectiveness of DBT-A compared to a CBT program in reducing symptoms of DBD, specifically reactive aggression, in adolescents with disruptive behavior and a history of trauma. DBT-A is expected to be superior to CBT because it will act by decreasing trauma-related hypersensitivity to threat by means of acquired emotion regulation skills, resulting in reduced hostile attribution bias. CBT will address hostile attribution bias; however, it will be less effective in reducing reactive aggression due to insufficient focus on emotion dysregulation and trauma effects. Method: Participants and guardians will attend a 16-week program of either DBT-A or a modified CBT program. Exposure to traumatic incidents and post-traumatic stress symptoms will be assessed through a structured clinical interview. Data will be recorded pre- and post-treatment on overall symptoms, emotion dysregulation, hypersensitivity to threat, hostile attribution bias, and reactive aggressive behavior towards peers, family and authority figures in participants’ school and home environments. Results: Analyses are expected to reveal main effects of treatment condition on improvement in overall DBD symptoms, emotion regulation, hypersensitivity to threat, and reactive aggression, whereby greater improvement will be seen for the DBT-A group. The effect of emotion regulation improvement on improvement in hypersensitivity to threat will be stronger for the DBT-A group. Conclusions: The findings of this proposed study support previous research on the effectiveness of DBT-A at ameliorating reactive aggression and other symptoms of DBD in adolescents, and suggest that addressing the association between emotion dysregulation and trauma-related hypersensitivity to threat plays an important role in reducing reactive aggression in this population.

Open Access Agreement

On-Campus only

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