Objective: Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), developed by Marsha Linehan for adults with suicidal behaviors and borderline personality disorder, has been successfully extended to adolescent populations. In addition, recent literature has discussed the wisdom of considering a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD) in teens under the age of 18. Linehan conceptualizes BPD as a disorder primarily of the emotion regulation system, and in particular, problems with regulation of emotions, impulses, relationships, and self. Thus, her skills training component of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) consists of modules targeting these problem areas: emotion regulation, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and mindfulness. Despite the proliferation of research supporting the efficacy of DBT, no measures specifically address the four core areas targeted in DBT skills training in adolescents. The Life Problems Inventory was developed to assess the four core BPD problem areas as described by Linehan and as targeted in DBT skills training.

Method: The Life Problems Inventory, a 60-item self-report instrument, was developed to assess Emotion Dysregulation, Impulsivity, Interpersonal Chaos, and Confusion about Self. The present study evaluates the psychometric properties of this instrument examining internal consistency, convergent validity, and criterion validity in an adolescent outpatient population (N = 195).

Results: The LPI was found to be internally consistent, to demonstrate convergent validity to related constructs, and to distinguish diagnostic samples.

Conclusions: Findings from this work 1) contribute to the self-report assessment of BPD features in adolescents according to Linehan’s conceptualization, and 2) demonstrate the psychometric properties of a clinical outcome measure for the skills training component of DBT.

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