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DBT in Recovery

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Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a relatively new treatment method that has shown promise for treating both substance abuse and even the most difficult mental health concerns. Targeted dialectical behavior therapy programs work especially for those who:

  • Suffer from trauma, life-threatening experiences, abuse or loss
  • Try traditional therapy with limited success
  • Struggle with co-occurring addiction and mental health concerns
  • Struggle with bipolar disorder, an eating disorder, PTSD or borderline personality disorder
  • Struggle with self-injury, self-harm or low self-esteem
  • Are an adult child of an alcoholic or suffered abuse or trauma as a young person
  • Have difficulties coping with emotions or feel that your emotions are overwhelming

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How Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy Different?

Dialectical behavior therapy was developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan, a renowned psychologist at the University of Washington. Dr. Linehan specializes in hard-to-treat patients. She found that traditional methods of therapy were not effective, and as a result she developed DBT.

DBT is different, as it does a few things that traditional therapy does not. DBT helps you deal with complicated emotions without putting you “on the spot.” DBT has two types of sessions that include a classroom/group environment and individual therapy sessions. These two types of treatment sessions work together to help you feel more comfortable about the treatment process. DBT provides real-life skills to help you recover from addiction and identify and help yourself get through difficult life moments. Dialectical behavior therapy is different from traditional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in the following ways:

  • DBT works like a class, as you learn more about yourself and how you relate to others
  • DBT accepts you as you are and does not pressure you to become someone you are not
  • DBT works to help you accept hardships and handle trauma and conflict more effectively
  • DBT helps you regulate and control your own emotions
  • DBT gives you the skills to release anxiety and live a life you want to live

What Are the Goals of Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

Dialectical behavior therapy helps you become more present, mindful and at peace with the world. By combining Buddhist principles with traditional psychotherapy and life skills, DBT works to help patients in the following four core areas:

  • Emotion regulation: Helping patients learn how to manage mood changes and impulsive decisions naturally
  • Distress tolerance: Teaching patients how to cope with trauma, distressing feelings and reactions
  • Mindfulness: Learning how to observe the situation and accept yourself and others as they are, and learning how to enjoy life just as it is and not how you would like it to be
  • Interpersonal effectiveness: Helping patients cope with difficult situations and difficult people to create healthy boundaries and build happier relationships
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