Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a staple of staple of modern addiction treatment and an incredibly effective component of behavioral rehab. It is one of the most commonly utilized therapeutic modalities and is available in both inpatient and outpatient treatment paradigms. DBT is commonly used to treat borderline personality disorder, suicidal ideations, and more. The primary goal of the technique is to help participants identify the triggers that lead to toxic and dysfunctional thought patterns that could trigger substance use. In an addiction treatment context, DBT is administered alongside group therapy, individualized counseling, and other types of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
DBT involves a collaborative therapy approach between participants and trained therapists. The process stresses empowerment, self-realization, and identification of problematic patterns of thinking that lead to and sustain drug and alcohol abuse.
DBT requires significant buy-in from participants as they’re expected to use the tools they gain from the therapy outside of treatment. DBT is administered through multiple weekly treatment sessions, homework exercises, and ongoing group therapy, during which patients develop healthy and proactive problem-solving behaviors to address the issue that arise in treatment.
DBT therapists are trained in this clinical specialization and can help patients extract the most out of this therapy.
Generally speaking, DBT relies on the cultivation and refinement of four principles to help patients achieve peace of mind and balanced mental health:
DBT participants address these issues through treatment sessions and independent practice in their everyday lives.
Data from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) indicates that DBT has great potential to reduce the risk of self-harm and to help patients gain better control of their emotions. Multiple data, including one study from the University of Washington, points to the clinical efficacy of DBT in co-occurring addiction and mental disorder.
This therapy very naturally dovetails with the ongoing clinical and mental health needs of those recovering from addiction. By addressing, identifying, and cataloging negative emotions, patients can better recognize them as they emerge and draw a line to these emotions and the urge to use drugs or alcohol. If you or a loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol use disorder, dialectical behavioral therapy may be ideal for you as you endeavor to reclaim your life from addiction.
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