What Is DBT?

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), a relatively new style of therapy, is becoming widely adopted to treat all manner of mental illnesses. But what is DBT, what can you expect, and how does DBT for addiction treatment work?

If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, contact BlueCrest Recovery by calling 888.292.9652 to learn more about our dialectical behavior therapy program.

What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

The first question that needs to be answered is, “What is DBT?” Simply, DBT is a rigorously researched talk therapy approach that can treat several mental health disorders, including:

  • Depressive disorders
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Substance use disorder
  • Anxiety disorders

DBT was originally developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan, who was specifically looking for a way to treat borderline personality disorder (BPD). Until the invention of DBT, there were no clinically effective treatments for BPD. The disorder was generally considered intractable.

Dr. Linehan developed DBT on the principles of the most common therapy style at the time, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

But unlike CBT, DBT recognizes that certain emotions and thoughts are outside of a person’s control. Rather than trying to “fix” everything, DBT instead teaches strategies to help people mindfully accept these situations and regulate their emotions.

In a typical DBT session, you can expect to meet with your therapist, talk through your issues, and learn skills to cope with difficult situations. DBT is typically offered in both individual and group sessions and is often broken into distinct sections that focus on different skills-learning elements.

How Does DBT for Addiction Treatment Work?

People struggling with a substance use disorder will recognize all too well that some thoughts are simply out of their control.

Whereas a CBT therapist may make progress with their clients aiming to change their thoughts and behaviors, the phenomenon of craving is often invasive and outside of your direct control. This is a result of the way addiction changes the brain.

DBT can be particularly beneficial in helping people overcome cravings due to its emphasis on mindfulness and acceptance. By learning to accept your thoughts as they are, rather than fighting against them, a person can reduce their overall stress in this situation and may be less prone to relapse.

Further, DBT can help people build interpersonal skills that can serve as a valuable tool for building support networks in recovery. And if you are one of the millions of people nationwide who struggle with both substance use and mental health condition, DBT may also be able to help with dual diagnosis treatment.

Key Skills Learned in DBT

DBT focuses on teaching four key types of skills to help people overcome their mental health challenges. These are often broken into distinct sections, which may take course over a week or two, allowing people to fully grasp the concepts before putting them into practice.

The first skill group is mindfulness, which refers to paying careful attention to the present moment without judgment.

The next is distress tolerance. These skills can help you manage stressful situations with strategies such as self-soothing, acceptance, and distraction.

The third group is emotional regulation. While you may not have direct control over your emotions, you can learn to manage them with intentional effort.

Finally, the last group is interpersonal effectiveness. By learning to improve your relationships with others, you may find that many of your challenges begin to improve.

Start DBT for Addiction Treatment at BlueCrest Recovery

Now, knowing the answer to “What is DBT?” the next step is to sign up for treatment. Contact us at 888.292.9652 to get in touch with the addiction professionals at BlueCrest Recovery and start your path to recovery today.

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