What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy or DBT?

During addiction treatment, various types of psychotherapies are used to help people reduce and stop drug use and prevent relapse. Dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT, is one such psychotherapy modality that has proven to be extremely effective in addiction recovery. In this article, we introduce you to DBT and how it works. We also compare DBT to another type of psychotherapy called CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). Last but not least, we help you find the best DBT therapists Washington offers.

In this article, we discuss:

What is dialectical behavior therapy or DBT?

Dialectics refers to the back-and-forth conversation between two individuals to gain a better understanding of a problem. Dialectical behavior therapy, therefore, involves a dialogue between a client and a therapist. The goal of this dialogue is to identify false beliefs and ultimately arrive at the truth. This is the underlying basis of dialectical behavior therapy Washington.

Dialectical behavior therapy was developed in the 1970s by Marsha Linehan, an American psychologist, to help people with mental health conditions. It was subsequently found to be effective in people battling addictions. The underlying principle of dialectical behavior therapy Washington is to teach recovering addicts a set of new skills. These skills help them deal with stress, regulate their emotions, improve communications, and become more mindful. The objective of dialectical behavior therapy Washington is to help an individual learn coping strategies that will keep them away from alcohol and drugs.

This is accomplished by teaching dialectical behavior therapy Washington clients to avoid toxic relationships and triggers. Instead, they learn to seek healthier environments that promote abstinence. After undergoing dialectical behavior therapy Washington, clients can manage strong emotions, drug cravings, and triggers in a healthy way. Therefore, dialectical behavior therapy Washington plays a critical role in preventing relapse.

What is DBT used for?

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a behavioral therapy that is most effective for individuals struggling with managing and regulating their emotions. DBT has shown success in treating a variety of mental health conditions that include:

  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
  • Self-injury
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Substance use disorder
  • Eating disorders, particularly binge eating disorder and bulimia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorder

This form of behavioral therapy is most effective for treating conditions that are thought to be associated with issues that stem from unhealthy attempts to control intense negative emotions. Instead of focusing on efforts that prove problematic for the individual, DBT clinicians guide people to adopt coping mechanisms that are not just healthy but also help manage emotions effectively.

How does DBT work?

The underlying principles of dialectical behavior therapy Washington are that emotions and actions are interlinked, that change is a constant, and that two things – change and acceptance – can exist at the same time. The last phrase means a person can balance two opposing goals of accepting life as-is while at the same time working to make positive changes.

As part of dialectical behavior therapy Washington sessions, recovering addicts gain an understanding of why they behave in certain ways. They learn to identify certain false beliefs they have been holding on to and arrive at the truth. The goal of DBT is to bring about a change in behavior by motivating a person. As a result of dialectical behavior therapy Washington, clients begin to accept the things they cannot change and change the things that will help them stay drug-free.

DBT pre-assessment

Before starting DBT treatment, your therapist will offer a quick assessment. During the evaluation, the therapist will ask you questions to understand your issue and explain how DBT works. Based on your answers, the therapist will determine if you require DBT for your condition and how effective it will be. If you feel the therapy will benefit you, they will brief you on the course of treatment and how long it will last.

 Individual DBT therapy

If you decide to go for therapy and opt for individual sessions, you will be asked to take weekly sessions with your therapist. Each session will be 40-60 minutes long. Individual DBT therapy sessions have the following agenda:

  • To assist you in reducing suicidal thoughts and self-harming behaviors (if you have them)
  • To reform behaviors that hamper the progress of therapy
  • To assist you in achieving your goals and improving the quality of your life by identifying and addressing the hurdles in your progress (for instance, mental health conditions or relationship problems)
  • To help you acquire new skills to put an end to problematic behaviors.

As part of the process, your therapist may even ask you to maintain a journal for your emotions and actions, encouraging you to recognize behavior patterns. They might ask you to carry the journal to your sessions so you and they can systematically work through one issue in each session.

DBT Skills Training in Groups

If you choose to participate in group sessions, the method will be slightly different. Instead of focusing attention on you, the therapist will teach skills to a group of people. Just so you know, these group sessions are not the same as group therapy, where you discuss your issues with others struggling with the same or similar conditions. DBT skills taught in a group setting are also aimed at enhancing your ability to deal with your day-to-day situations. Here are four skills your therapist will teach you:

  • Mindfulness: This refers to being fully aware of yourself and your surroundings in the present moment instead of worrying about the past or future.
  • Distress tolerance skills: This is the practice of understanding and managing your emotions in difficult or stressful situations without resorting to harmful behaviors.
  • Interpersonal effectiveness: This is related to understanding what you want or need and asking for it respectfully. It involves setting boundaries for others while maintaining respect for yourself and others.
  • Emotion regulation skills: Understanding, being more aware of, and having complete control over your emotions is a crucial skill. It helps reduce instances of uncontrolled behaviors like rage.

Telephone Crisis Coaching

DBT will often include telephone crisis management to offer support between sessions. As you might require additional assistance to manage daily life issues, your therapist may allow you to call them at certain times to seek guidance. Instances where you may need to phone your therapist include:

  • When you have a sudden crisis, such as an urge to self-harm, and you need to speak with your therapist
  • When you’re trying to apply the DBT skills you acquired during treatment to certain situations but need advice on how to do it
  • However, telephone crisis coaching must be used wisely. As much as your therapist will want to be available when you need them, they will set clear boundaries about when you can call them, giving you a window of mutually agreed-upon time range to make it easy on both of you. Crisis coaching is only intended as an as-needed provision. Make it a point to keep calls as brief as possible, discussing only what’s relevant and saving detailed discussion for the main sessions.

Benefits of dialectical behavior therapy

In DBT, the patient and the therapist work collaboratively to address the apparent contradiction between self-acceptance and the pursuit of positive change. This often involves providing the individual with validation, a key aspect in fostering cooperation and reducing distress about change. The therapist validates the individual’s actions and extols their efforts to make a positive change without being critical of those actions.

While DBT can be implemented through various formats, such as group skills training, individual therapy, and phone coaching, its benefits remain the same. Here are six main benefits:

  • 1. Acceptance and change: Skills taught can be applied to accept life’s vicissitudes and tolerate one’s emotions. Additionally, interpersonal skills are developed to improve relationships with others.
  • 2. Behavioral analysis: Individuals learn to analyze and understand problematic or destructive behavioral patterns and replace them with healthier, more effective ones.
  • 3. Cognitive shift: Individuals learn to shift their focus to altering thoughts and beliefs that are not beneficial.
  • 4. Collaborative approach: Effective communication and teamwork between the therapist, group therapist, and psychiatrist help create a positive change in the individual’s life.
  • 5. Skill sets: New skills are imparted to help individuals better approach and deal with emotions and interpersonal relationships.
  • 6. Support: Recognition of positive traits and emphasizing them is encouraged, which helps foster self-esteem and self-confidence. 

DBT takes a holistic approach and aims to promote self-awareness, emotional regulation, and positive transformations in individuals undergoing therapy.

How long will I need dialectical behavior therapy?

Depending on your specific problem, dialectical behavior therapy can take anywhere from six months to a year. As each person is unique and different mental health conditions may require different techniques, your progress can be slow or fast. Despite the length of treatment, you shouldn’t expect to be completely symptom-free just after one year of DBT

Many therapists think that therapy for borderline personality disorder can especially take several years. But it’s essential to continue the treatment and get discouraged by how long it takes. Being able to manage your emotions and have a better quality of life is more important, so consider any progress to be good progress.

How is DBT different from CBT?

Dialectical behavior therapy is an offshoot of cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT. The two psychotherapy modalities share many common concepts, including the belief that addiction is a result of vulnerable emotions and that healthy thoughts and environments encourage sobriety. However, a key difference between CBT and DBT is that dialectical behavior therapy Washington is rooted in optimism, meaning clients are motivated to change and improve their lives.

Another difference between DBT and CBT is that DBT is more flexible. Whereas CBT is typically offered as individual therapy, dialectical behavior therapy Washington can be offered as part of individual, group, and family therapy programs. For this reason, the dropout rate for dialectical behavior therapy Washington is lower than CBT because people find it easier to stick with the less rigid format.

Is dialectical behavior therapy effective?

DBT is a well-established treatment for substance abuse and psychological disorders. In people battling addiction, dialectical behavior therapy Washington can reduce drug use, promote long-term abstinence, and reduce the risk of relapse. DBT is particularly effective in clients with dual diagnosis, i.e., addiction plus mental health conditions. Studies have found that dialectical behavior therapy Washington can help clients with addiction who have not responded to other psychotherapies. Also, dialectical behavior therapy Washington is particularly effective for people with volatile personalities because it teaches skills to regulate emotions.

Goals of dialectical behavior therapy

The goal of dialectical behavior therapy Washington is to help a recovering addict change their behavior. In other words, DBT helps a person give up unhealthy behaviors and develop healthy habits instead. By reinforcing healthy behaviors, dialectical behavior therapy Washington helps individuals reduce drug use. This is critical for drug and alcohol addicts to stay safe and stay alive.

Another goal of dialectical behavior therapy Washington is to motivate recovering addicts to stay in therapy until their treatment goals are achieved. Studies show that staying in treatment for a longer duration is associated with better outcomes in addiction recovery.

Alcoholics and drug addicts often undertake dangerous behaviors under the influence of harmful substances. People who receive dialectical behavior therapy Washington are less likely to indulge in reckless behaviors that put them and others at risk.

Therapists who administer dialectical behavior therapy Washington teach skills to manage stress in a healthy way and promote positive emotions and behaviors. As a result, clients learn to rebuild relationships with loved ones and develop stronger connections as they move toward a better future.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy Washington at Discover Recovery

Discover Recovery is a leading Washington drug rehab center staffed by a highly experienced consultation team of addiction medicine specialists. We use a range of treatment modalities, including medical detox, FDA-approved medications, and evidence-based psychotherapies like dialectical behavior therapy to help you get clean and stay clean. Our dialectical behavior therapy Washington programs include individual and group counseling as well as family therapy.

We offer a holistic addiction treatment program that is designed to address every aspect of substance abuse, including your physical health, mental health, and psychosocial issues. The goal is to provide you with comprehensive care that gives you the best chance of lasting recovery. We offer a young adult program that is specifically designed to help millennials battling addiction. Dialectical behavior therapy Washington is offered as part of this and other programs.

As part of dialectical behavior therapy Washington at Discover Recovery, you will learn coping skills to help you navigate challenging or stressful situations. You will also learn to regulate your emotions and bring about positive changes in your behaviors. All these skills will help you stay sober in the future.

If you or someone you love is suffering from substance abuse, dialectical behavior therapy Washington could help you overcome your addiction. Discover Recovery is one of the leading centers for dialectical behavior therapy Washington offers. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help you.

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At Discover Recovery, we work with a wide variety of health insurance providers so those in need can get access to the treatment they need. That means you (or your loved one) won’t have to worry about covering the cost of treatment. Instead, all of your energy and focus can be spent where it’s really needed, which is on overcoming addiction.

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