Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a well-established treatment modality for individuals with substance use disorders and/or mental health disorders. As with other addiction treatment models, DBT drug addiction treatment is designed to promote abstinence from drugs and alcohol and to reduce the occurrence, length, and adverse impact of relapse. DBT is an evidence-based form of psychotherapy derived from the well-known and widely used cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Developed by psychologist Dr. Marsha Linehan and her colleagues in the 1980s, dialectical behavior therapy components are based on treating high-risk behaviors, such as substance abuse, mental illness, and even suicidal ideation. Keep reading to learn how our Sebring drug rehab supports our clients with their recovery through the use of DBT.

How DBT Works

The DBT approach is multidimensional and comprehensive. This modality aims to help participants learn skills needed to change unhelpful thoughts or behaviors that are linked to their substance use or mental health disorders. Our Florida DBT therapists teach critical skills by modeling, providing guidance, storytelling, offering feedback, and coaching.

Therapists who administer dialectical behavior therapy for substance abusers at our Sebring, FL, drug rehab use a variety of strategies and techniques to do this, such as:

  • Distress tolerance: This aspect of DBT drug addiction treatment teaches individuals to accept discomfort and negative emotions. For individuals who experience distress or crisis, the implementation of learned techniques like distraction and self-soothing empowers our patients to positively cope with intense emotions that would otherwise contribute to self-destructive behaviors like drug or alcohol use or self-harm.
  • Emotional regulation: This technique focuses on identifying and changing negative emotional responses to tough situations. By helping DBT patients recognize and cope with intense negative emotions and act differently, our therapists can help them have more positive experiences and avoid relapsing or turning to harmful behaviors to self-medicate.
  • Interpersonal effectiveness: This aspect of DBT for addiction helps clients repair, maintain, and establish healthy relationship behaviors, which also includes ending toxic or negative ones. This strategy teaches assertiveness to help individuals create and enforce healthy boundaries with others and learn how to communicate their needs effectively.
  • Mindfulness: Mindfulness is at the core of DBT for substance abuse treatment. Participants learn how to practice awareness by mastering observation. Clients receiving this form of therapy learn how to be more aware of their feelings, thoughts, sensations, impulses, and environments. Being aware helps them learn how to slow down and focus on using healthy coping skills when challenged.

What Is the Difference Between CBT and DBT?

Both dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) are evidence-based therapeutic modalities, but they differ greatly in their goals, backgrounds, and focus on particular skills. Key distinctions between CBT and DBT are as follows:

  • Origin and Focus:
    • CBT: Created by Aaron T. Beck, CBT is a cognitive behavioral therapy that focuses on recognizing and addressing harmful thought patterns and beliefs to modify problematic behaviors and emotions. It is frequently used to treat a variety of mental health conditions, such as phobias, depression, and anxiety.
    • DBT: Originally designed to treat people with borderline personality disorder (BPD), DBT was created by Marsha M. Linehan. DBT emphasizes the validation and acceptance of emotions by fusing cognitive-behavioral methods with acceptance and mindfulness practices.
  • Target Population:
    • CBT: Frequently used for a variety of mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and other psychological issues, CBT is broadly applicable across a range of mental health conditions.
    • DBT: Created for people with borderline personality disorder, DBT has been modified to help people with intense emotional dysregulation, self-harming behaviors, and other issues.
  • Emphasis on Acceptance and Mindfulness:
    • CBT: Mindfulness practices are not a fundamental part of CBT, although they may be incorporated. The main goal of cognitive restructuring is to alter thought and behavior patterns.
    • DBT: Places a strong emphasis on acceptance and mindfulness as essential elements of treatment. DBT relies heavily on mindfulness techniques, which are taught to help people control strong emotions. These techniques include observing, describing, and participating.
  • Distress Tolerance and Emotional Regulation:
    • CBT: Although CBT deals with emotional regulation, it might not give distress tolerance skills as much of an emphasis as DBT does.
    • DBT: Distress tolerance and emotional regulation are key components of DBT. People who find it difficult to control their intense emotions can benefit from techniques like opposite action and radical acceptance.
  • Structure of Therapy:
    • CBT: Usually given in a more ordered and structured way. The main goal of sessions is to recognize and confront particular ideas and actions.
    • DBT: Blends group skills training with individual therapy. While the group sessions concentrate on teaching and practicing skills related to mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and emotional regulation, the individual therapy focuses on specific issues.
  • Dialectics:
    • CBT: While dialectical thinking is utilized in CBT, it is not as essential to the methodology.
    • DBT: Dialectics is a fundamental component of DBT therapy, which entails accepting contradictory facts and striking a balance between acceptance and change.

While goal-oriented and skills-based approaches are common to both CBT and DBT, their main distinctions are in the skills they emphasize, how they balance acceptance and change, and their primary targets. The needs of the individual and the type of mental health issues they are experiencing often determine which of CBT and DBT is best.

Components of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

The integration of acceptance and mindfulness practices with cognitive-behavioral therapy is a well-known feature of DBT. The treatment consists of multiple interconnected parts:

  • Mindfulness Skills:
    • Observing: Developing the ability to observe thoughts, feelings, and behaviors without judgment.
    • Describing: Putting experiences into words, enhancing clarity and understanding.
    • Participating: Fully engaging in the present moment without distraction.
  • Distress Tolerance Skills:
    • Distracting: Redirecting attention away from overwhelming emotions temporarily.
    • Self-soothing: Engaging in activities that provide comfort and calm.
    • Improving the moment: Identifying ways to make a difficult situation more bearable.
  • Emotion Regulation Skills:
    • Identifying and labeling emotions: Developing emotional awareness and language.
    • Increasing positive emotions: Engaging in activities that elevate positive feelings.
    • Opposite action: Acting opposite to intense, negative emotions to change emotional responses.
    • Applying mindfulness to emotions: Observing and experiencing emotions without judgment.
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills:
    • Objective effectiveness: Achieving one's objectives in a situation.
    • Relationship effectiveness: Maintaining self-respect while keeping positive relationships.
    • Self-respect effectiveness: Assertively communicating while respecting oneself and others.
  • Core Mindfulness Skills:
    • Wise mind: Balancing emotional and rational thinking to make effective decisions.
    • Mindfulness "how" skills: Non-judgmentally, one-mindfully, and effectively practicing mindfulness.
  • Middle Path Skills:
    • Dialectics: Accepting and finding a balance between opposing truths or perspectives.
    • Validation: Recognizing and acknowledging one's own and others' feelings as valid.
  • Behavioral Skills
    • Behavioral chain analysis: Examining the chain of events leading to a specific behavior.
    • Problem-solving: Developing effective strategies to solve problems.
    • Contingency management: Understanding and addressing the consequences of behavior.
  • Consultation Team:
    • Therapist consultation: A crucial component where therapists meet regularly to support each other in providing effective DBT treatment.

Using Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Addiction

According to research, dialectical behavior therapy is effective in treating substance use disorders as well as mental illness or co-occurring disorders.1 An addiction-focused DBT approach helps individuals commit to abstinence and motivates them to change through various activities and techniques. DBT drug addiction treatment also treats relapse as a problem to solve, allowing therapists to individually assess a client’s relapse for its causes and some effective solutions.

Our dialectical behavior therapy offered at our drug rehab in Sebring, FL, comes with various benefits, including:

  • A decrease in discomfort associated with withdrawal symptoms
  • A decrease in substance use
  • A decrease in substance-related cravings and temptations
  • Avoiding triggers and other events that could lead to substance use or relapse
  • Creating and enforcing healthy boundaries necessary for maintaining sobriety
  • Improving healthy interpersonal relationships through community
  • Reducing problematic behaviors that contribute to drug and alcohol abuse

Finding Dialectical Behavior Therapy Near Me

Our DBT therapists are specifically trained to provide effective treatment. If you are searching for DBT for yourself or a loved one, our facility can help. As one of few rehab centers in Sebring, FL, Banyan is proud to say that we offer a multitude of addiction therapy services that support long-term sobriety, including dialectical behavior therapy.

For more information about our Sebring drug treatment and how to get started, contact Banyan Treatment Centers today.


  1. The American Journal of Psychotherapy - The Course and Evolution of Dialectical Behavior Therapy