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Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a type of psychotherapy that is used to treat a variety of mental health conditions. It has proven to be very effective in addiction rehab.

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Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Substance Abuse

DBT helps people struggling with substance use disorders learn new skills to solve the problems that are causing their addiction. These skills include distress tolerance, emotional regulation, interpersonal communication, and mindfulness. During dialectical behavior therapy, recovering addicts are taught coping strategies that are critical in helping them move away from drug and alcohol use.

At Boca Recovery Center, we utilize dialectical behavior therapy to discourage drug use in our clients. Our DBT therapists help clients seek healthy environments and remove triggers and toxic relationships from their lives. DBT therapy at Boca Recovery Center bolsters confidence and self-esteem in recovering addicts, helping them to stay sober even during stressful periods in life. If you or a loved one could benefit from dialectical behavior therapy, call us today to find out more.

In this article, we tell you everything you need to know about dialectical behavior therapy. You can read about the goals of therapy and how DBT is different from another type of psychotherapy called CBT. You can find out what to expect during DBT and why it is effective in people with substance use disorders.

What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a type of psychotherapy that teaches people skills to cope with strong emotions, triggers, and cravings. It is extremely effective in managing stressful situations that can lead to relapse in recovering addicts.

DBT was developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan in the late 1980s to treat people with a borderline personality disorder. However, several studies have shown that DBT is exceptionally useful in decreasing drug and alcohol use. Dialectical Behavior Therapy is used to treat a variety of addictions, including alcohol, prescription medications like opiates, and street drugs like heroin and cocaine.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy at Boca Recovery Center is part of a comprehensive addiction treatment program that encourages abstinence and reduces the risk of relapse in recovering addicts. 

DBT was developed by Dr. Linehan using an approach combining tools and techniques adapted from Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and from mindfulness and meditation approaches used in Buddhism.  Dr. Linehan added dialectics to the therapy process, hence the name Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Dialectics is a method of reasoning that involves a contradiction between two opposing sides. In other words, dialectics is a back-and-forth dialogue or debate.

How does DBT work?

Dialectical behavior therapy teaches recovering addicts that two things can be simultaneously true. Meaning it is possible to balance two opposing goals, namely acceptance and change. People struggling with substance abuse learn to accept life as it is. But they also work toward change and altering unhealthy behaviors. The core concepts of DBT are:

  • Emotions and behaviors are interconnected
  • Change is constant
  • Acceptance and change can co-exist

During a DBT session, the therapist helps recovering addicts understand why they act in a specific way. The back-and-forth debate (dialectics) between a client and the therapist allows substance abusers to examine their false beliefs and arrive at the truth.

Goals of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

The goal of DBT is to encourage a change in behavior through perseverance and motivation. Healthy behaviors are reinforced to remove drugs and alcohol and improve the addict’s life. DBT teaches recovering addicts to accept the things they cannot change and to change the behaviors that cause them harm. The aim is to help individuals live a meaningful life that is drug- and alcohol-free.

At Boca Recovery Center, we use DBT to reinforce and reward healthy behaviors and move recovering addicts closer to their goal of a happy, healthy, drug-free life.

Here are some of the things you can hope to achieve through dialectical behavior therapy at Boca Recovery Center:

  • Stay safe and alive.
  • Remain in therapy until goals are achieved.
  • Reduce reckless and dangerous behaviors.
  • Enhance positive emotions and behaviors.
  • Learn skills to manage stress.
  • Avoid escapism from strong emotions.
  • Build healthy relationships.
  • Feel connected to friends and family to move toward a happy future.

Difference between DBT and CBT

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) was adapted from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), so the two share many fundamental concepts. The basic principles of these two psychotherapies are the same. Both believe that problems like addiction are the result of emotional vulnerability and environments that encourage unhealthy behaviors.

However, the main difference between DBT and CBT is that DBT encourages optimism. Recovering addicts are encouraged to do their best and be motivated to improve. Also, the dropout rate for CBT is higher than DBT (clients tend to discontinue CBT before therapy is complete). This is because CBT is more rigid in coming to terms with harmful behaviors. It also relies mainly on individual therapy. DBT, on the other hand, is more flexible and has a range of therapy situations, including group and individual therapy, skills training, and consultations.

Is DBT addiction rehabilitation effective?

If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, Dialectical Behavior Therapy can help. This type of psychotherapy is effective in diminishing cravings, handling temptations, and avoiding situations that trigger drug use. DBT therapy supports abstinence and promotes long-lasting sobriety. Individuals receiving DBT learn positive behaviors and skills to manage emotions in a healthy way. They acquire enhanced tolerance to distress and greater control over their emotions. The DBT therapists at Boca Recovery Center also teach recovering addicts several skills like interpersonal relationships and mindfulness (awareness of one’s actions).

Dialectical behavior therapy is particularly effective for people with a volatile personality because it teaches individuals to regulate their emotions.

If someone frequently cries at movies, is a drama queen, or has a roller coaster of emotions, dialectical behavior therapy can be very effective in helping them overcome addiction.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy at Boca Recovery Center

At Boca Recovery Center, we use evidence-based dialectical behavior therapy to help people battling substance abuse. Here is what you can expect during DBT for addiction rehab.

Individual counseling

One-on-one DBT sessions focus on the addict’s past and present behavior. Recovering addicts are asked to track their behaviors and emotions. The focus is on dealing with these emotions to avoiding drinking or drug-seeking behaviors. Addicts learn skills to stay motivated and apply coping strategies to daily life. The family may be included in some DBT sessions.

Group therapy

Recovering addicts learn a different skill every week in a group therapy setting. This includes things like changing negative behaviors, developing healthy relationships, and coping with stress. Family members are sometimes invited to the sessions to reinforce the same message.

Skills coaching

DBT therapists at Boca Recovery Center are personal coaches for recovering addicts. They are available in times of stress to guide the client through decision making. Therapists do not tell clients what to do. Rather, they help recovering addicts in making the right choices. This is an important feature of DBT that helps recovering addicts gain confidence in decision-making.

Collaborative consultations

Kicking a drug habit is a stressful and challenging process. The clinical team at Boca Recovery Center works in concert to ensure that recovering addicts receive the most comprehensive rehabilitation for their addiction. The team keeps a tab on each client’s progress and collaborates to ensure they receive the highest quality of care.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy is an effective addiction rehab offered at alcohol and drug rehab centers. DBT therapists undergo extensive specialized training to help recovering addicts make the changes they need to improve their lives. At Boca Recovery Center, we believe the therapist and client’s relationship is one of equals. Both must collaborate to get the desired results. Our DBT therapists guide clients toward their goals throughout the recovery process. We combine dialectical behavior therapy with research-based addiction treatments, such as detox, medication management, and other psychotherapies, to give our clients the best chance of success.

If you or someone you love could benefit from dialectical behavior therapy for addiction, call Boca Recovery Center today. Our experienced DBT therapists are here to guide you towards a drug-free future.

Updated July 24, 2023
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