Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a version of psychotherapy designed to help individuals learn skills that help them manage their emotions and learn how to handle conflict more effectively. It was initially developed to help people diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder. Research showed that DBT therapy could also be useful in helping people with other conditions like substance abuse. Clients who take part in DBT therapy at Compass Detox can become more prepared to handle the difficulties of transitioning from rehab to regular life.
Therapists who employ dialectical behavior therapy to treat addiction issues typically use it to help clients learn problem-solving strategies. It can also help them learn to accept themselves and begin assessing the damage caused by their addiction.
DBT consists of four modules:
- Mindfulness — DBT typically helps clients learn to practice mindfulness, which means putting themselves in a state where they are present and aware. Clients learn to examine what they are thinking and how they are feeling without making judgments.
- Interpersonal Effectiveness — Clients learn strategies that help them interact with other people. They can include learning to assert themselves in specific situations and ask for things without conditions devolving into a conflict.
- Distress Tolerance — Clients practice dealing with stress and painful emotions by accepting the reality of a situation. They learn crisis management strategies like self-soothing, distraction, making the current moment better, and evaluating every situation’s pros and cons.
- Emotional Regulation — DBT teaches clients how to manage their emotions. They learn skills like identifying what the client is feeling, recognizing the obstacles in front of them, learning to create positive emotions, and applying stress tolerance techniques.
What To Expect From Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Dialectical behavior therapy sessions usually start by making sure a client is in a stable emotional state. Once the therapist confirms that the client is prepared to move forward, they typically begin exploring the client’s past to understand what may have pushed them toward addiction.
Therapists teach clients how to work through any pain and emotional trauma in ways that do not involve using drugs and alcohol. The goal is usually to get the client to a place where they are making steady progress in the outside world while attending DBT sessions. Therapists track their progress and how well they are applying the skills learned in DBT to real-life situations.
How Dialectical Behavior Therapy Benefits Those Dealing With Addiction
Sometimes clients start treatment in a state where they are unsure of what is or isn’t real. DBT therapy can help clients learn to recognize what is factual versus what may be a product of their mind. That helps them learn to interpret situations as they are instead of filtering them through an unreliable perspective.
DBT also teaches clients to recognize their culpability for actions taken while they were under the influence. Once they can do that, it becomes possible for clients to progress to a point where they are ready to start repairing the damage they caused to important relationships. Dialectical behavior therapy can also help clients by:
- Helping them gain better insights into their actions and the resulting consequences
- Learn to interact better with peers
- Accept accountability for past mistakes
- Construct a support system to help them avoid relapse
- Understand that the client is not alone in their recovery journey
Dialectical behavior therapy tends to be helpful to those recovering from addiction because it avoids black-and-white framing. It can also be adapted to each client’s needs and can be used in group and individual therapy.
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