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Designed to access the intricacies of interpersonal relationships, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a cognitive behavioral treatment that teaches clients to create balance, to regulate emotion, and to practice tolerance in their recovery.
Though dialectical behavioral therapy was originally developed as a treatment for borderline personality disorder by mental health professional Marsha Linehan, there are now many illnesses that the DBT program has been adapted for, and many that DBT treat, as discussed further below.
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) has been endorsed by the American Psychiatric Association and is well supported by a variety of behaviour research, including in a recent systematic review assessing DBT training and finding it an effective treatment.
The term “dialectical” refers to a synthesis or integration of opposites, or in this case, an overall transformation through the seemingly divergent processes of acceptance and change. This technique instills mindfulness in both therapists and clients, and aims to establish connections between past behaviors and future reactions.
Used to treat a variety of mental health concerns, DBT focuses on four key principles. These concepts include mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and emotion regulation. All areas of DBT aim to strengthen relationships, to identify and tolerate pain, to stimulate awareness, and to recognize feeling.
DBT offers the individual an opportunity to become fully aware of their own thoughts and behaviors, and the ways in which their behaviors have affected others. Focused on rebuilding positive foundations in behavior, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a leading methodology in addiction treatment.
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) was originally developed for treating borderline personality disorder, a condition that often co-occurs with substance dependence. Borderline personality disorder is characterized by difficulties with emotional regulation, impulsivity, chronic feelings of emptiness, disturbed interpersonal relationships, intense fear of abandonment, self-destructive behaviors, and even suicidal behaviors.
Borderline personality disorder can also co-occur with a variety of other mental health problems that dialectical behavior therapy can be used to treat separately or together. These mental health issues include post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders (including binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, and restrictive eating disorder), major depressive disorder and other forms of chronic depression, and other personality disorders.
For patients with these mental health and personality disorders, comprehensive DBT skills training allows them to develop the behavioral skills they need to counter the symptoms of their disorders and create positive changes in their life.
The core of this process takes place in individual DBT therapy. In individual therapy, DBT therapists first focus on any urgently dangerous behaviors, such as self-harm, drug abuse, or suicidal behaviors. The second priority of the individual therapist will be any behaviors that may interfere with DBT treatment.
After that, the trained therapist will focus on negative behaviors or thought patterns that have been impeding progress in the patients’ life. Finally, the DBT program will move on to imparting new skills that the patient can use to improve their life.
Throughout your time in dialectical behavior therapy, your healthcare provider will also be available for phone coaching to help you deal with intense emotions in real-time. They will also give you homework assignments aimed at helping you take your DBT skills training out of the therapy room and into your day-to-day life.
In addition with individual therapy provided by your individual therapist, DBT group sessions are also an important part of the dialectical behavioral therapy process. As opposed to traditional group therapy, which often focuses on processing trauma and sharing experiences, group sessions in dialectical behavior therapy are more focused on teaching clients new skills in a group setting.
In a DBT skills training group session, the DBT therapist will teach the group members specific skills. For instance, DBT group members may be taught distress tolerance skills, which help patients learn how to tolerate intense emotions and experiences without resorting to destructive behaviors like self-harm. For example, patients with eating disorders may learn DBT skills that can help them tolerate painful emotions associated with over or undereating.
Additionally, group skills training through DBT focuses on interpersonal effectiveness, teaching group members how to communicate with and relate to others in their lives while still maintaining an appropriate amount of self-respect and healthy boundaries. These important life skills will help group members to form stronger romantic and family relationships as well as to relate to others in the workplace.
In mindfulness skill DBT group sessions, group members are taught to be more aware of their thoughts and feelings, and more focused on what is happening in the present moment. Finally, emotion regulation through dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) teaches DBT group members how to be more attentive to and better manage their own emotional state.
Reco Intensive is a South Florida addiction treatment center accredited by the National Institute of Health and that provides dialectical behavior therapy as part of our clinical psychology and psychiatric services.
To learn more about dialectical behavior therapy and how suitable DBT therapy may be for you or your loved ones, or about admissions into our addiction treatment and DBT program, feel free to call us anytime at 844.955.3042 or to contact us at any time here. There’s no time like the present to move on to recovery from addiction and a brighter future.
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