Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

What Is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy?

Dialectical behavioral therapy or DBT is a specific type of cognitive behavioral therapy that was developed in the late 1980s by Marsha M. Linehan. It was originally created as a way to treat people with borderline personality disorder but has been expanded to treat other conditions and aliments such as depression, eating disorders, PTSD, and substance abuse problems. It is similar to cognitive behavioral therapy in that it looks to change negative thought patterns into more productive thinking to positively impact behavior, but DBT utilizes the patient’s personal relationships to do so. Many people have strong emotional responses connected to their personal relationships, whether positive or negative, and dialectical behavioral therapy uses these emotional responses to illicit change in the patient.

While CBT is centered on change alone, DBT also focuses on acceptance. Through individual and group sessions, the therapist will try to promote feelings of validation, acceptance, and support for the patient, while also helping them take steps to promote changes aimed at improving their quality of life. Patients will learn to accept the things in life that they cannot change while also trying to improve what they can change. Utilizing this type of thought, patients are better able to handle life’s everyday problems in healthy ways while setting and pursuing goals to help them build a more meaningful life.

How Is DBT Used for Addiction?

While dialectical behavioral therapy can be used to treat various conditions, it has also been adapted to help people who are struggling with substance abuse disorders. Although addiction involves physical dependence, substance abuse problems are often connected to both mental health and the addict’s personal relationships. Poor relationships could be a root cause of the addiction, or they may be a result of the person’s problem. Either way, addiction can have drastic effects on relationships and usually are an emotionally-charged topic for the drug user or alcoholic.

Dialectical behavioral therapy for addiction helps patients who may be feeling alone, distant, or attacked by their loved ones find acceptance. The negative thoughts about these relationships that bombard them and often make their substance abuse worse are transformed into more encouraging messages that can push them toward positive changes in their behavior. Especially during early recovery or a medical detox when emotions are at a high, dialectical behavioral therapy for addiction can help patients work through these emotions and feel supported.

Substance abuse dialectical behavioral therapy can also be helpful with relapse prevention. Once patients leave rehab and start to reintegrate themselves back into their community, they are bound to run into some uncomfortable and triggering situations. DBT can help patients raise their confidence and self-image that can make them more comfortable in these situations. It can also teach them to better regulate their emotions, especially in regards to others, and turn to healthier means of coping and conflict resolution to avoid turning to drugs or alcohol.
Comprehensive Treatment at BHOPB

As a holistic treatment center, we believe that addiction is more than just the physical dependence on drugs or alcohol. In order to help patients find lasting sobriety, we also address the underlying mental health problems and ancillary issues at play that will likely lead to relapse if ignored. DBT for addiction is just one of many therapies we use to help patients during their time with us.

To learn more about our facility and the various programming we offer at Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches, contact us today.