Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a highly effective and evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy helping you reduce substance use, manage your emotions and learn new skills in these four key areas:
- Distress tolerance – You can learn to accept that pain and suffering are a part of life without trying to fix it, change it or make it go away.
- Emotion regulation – You can tolerate and manage your most intense feelings, both negative and positive.
- Interpersonal effectiveness – You can create healthy relationships with others, set boundaries and communicate effectively.
- Mindfulness – You can notice your thoughts and behaviors without judging them or becoming attached to them.
DBT teaches you new, healthier ways to think and act, how to tolerate life’s many stressors and how to move forward towards your life’s goals.
Introduced in the 1980s by Dr. Marsha Linehan, DBT helps you change the way you view your environment. It addresses the flawed “all or nothing” mentality many people have about the world, reminding you that there are many options and many possibilities in life: your choices are not simply “black” or “white.”
Transforming negative thought patterns and unhelpful behaviors, DBT is particularly helpful for those who are:
- Stuck in a pattern of chronic drug or alcohol abuse
- Engaged in self-harm or suicidal thoughts/behaviors
- Diagnosed with a personality disorder
- Emotionally vulnerable
- Recovering from a trauma or living in an abusive home or relationship
When it comes to addiction treatment, DBT can help you let go of the need to rely on numbing and self-medicating behaviors. Instead of numbing yourself with drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling or the Internet, you can learn how to find a middle ground and make new decisions about how you want to live your life.
At ARC, DBT takes place in individual therapy sessions and in skills groups. In individual therapy, your therapist will help you stay motivated in treatment as you learn and practice new DBT skills and identify new ways to manage your emotions. You’ll learn more about mindfulness and may engage in exercises, such as role-plays. In a DBT skills group, you’ll learn and practice new DBT skills in a group setting with trained therapists. Expect to have homework assignments that you can complete and discuss within the group.
As you practice your new skills in therapy and in groups, you’ll find that you’re better equipped to:
- Solve problems as they arise
- Manage depression, anger and other volatile emotions
- Make friends and communicate more effectively
- Handle sadness, loneliness and other difficult feelings
- Tolerate distress and better regulate your emotions
Increase your confidence and reduce your anxiety by learning the DBT skills that will transform your life. While we can share these effective DBT tools with you, you must decide to practice and use them. When you are ready to learn more, know that the road to recovery starts here.