Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based form of psychotherapy used to treat people with mental health and/or substance use disorders. DBT was developed by psychologist Dr. Marsha Linehan and her colleagues in the 1980s. This form of therapy is largely based on cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which is another form of psychotherapy used in the treatment of mental illness and addiction. However, DBT focuses greatly on validating and accepting uncomfortable or negative feelings rather than avoiding or working around them. Keep reading to learn how our DBT for addiction can help you or a loved one move forward in recovery.
DBT Therapy Techniques and Approach
DBT therapy for substance abuse is multi-dimensional and comprehensive. It helps clients learn skills to change unhelpful thoughts and behaviors. Therapists using DBT teach critical behavioral skills to clients by modeling, role-playing, providing instructions, telling stories, giving feedback, and coaching them through various scenarios.
Common DBT therapy techniques include:
- Using mindfulness: Focusing on a mindfulness skill as a dialectical behavioral therapy technique helps clients learn how to be in the present. It helps them avoid living in the past or worrying about the future and instead encourages them to focus on what they can do and enjoy at the moment. Mindfulness is widely considered to be the foundation of DBT. When practicing mindfulness, clients at our rehab in Texas may learn to identify and observe their thoughts, feelings, emotions, and surroundings. They describe their situation in a way that’s easy for others to understand and effectively engage in value-based and goal-directed behaviors.
- Learning about interpersonal effectiveness: Interpersonal effectiveness follows core mindfulness and focuses on how clients can positively interact with others. With this technique, clients learn to navigate stressful situations they might face in recovery, as well as how to cope with personal relationships. Skills that are practiced during this stage of DBT include clear communication, letting go of animosity towards self and others, learning to say no, and focusing on how to ask for what one needs.
- Learning how to manage and tolerate stress: Distress tolerance is used to help clients accept change (radical acceptance.) This stage of DBT helps clients develop skills like improving stressful situations, self-soothing, identifying ways to distract themselves, and figuring out the pros and cons of a situation.
- Emotional regulation: DBT for addiction greatly emphasizes emotional regulation, which is usually the last therapy technique that therapists focus on. Learning how to manage and control one’s emotions can be incredibly difficult, especially when recovering from addiction. Learning emotional regulation helps clients feel less vulnerable, regulate their emotions, and become confident in their ability to control how they feel and respond in certain situations.
Our DBT Drug Addiction Program
DBT therapy for addiction is designed to equip clients at our Texas treatment center with the tools needed to develop a healthier mindset. Because substance abuse is just as mental as it is physical, clients need to receive guidance on how to change their mindset and habits when it comes to their daily lives. For instance, a person in alcohol addiction recovery may have to learn how to cope with arguments with their spouse without drinking. By preparing clients to address these situations without drugs or alcohol, we can make recovery easier for them and make relapse less likely.