Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based treatment method that encourages self- awareness and helps participants uncover the root of their addiction. Adapted from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), DBT was developed to treat individuals suffering from borderline personality disorder or a pattern of self-loathing and self-harm. It has also proven effective in addressing a host of additional conditions, including substance use disorder. The technique uses simple, practical tools to help clients gain personal insight and accept the need for behavioral change.

What is DBT?

The roots of DBT may stem from CBT, but the approach offers a slightly different focus. CBT is primarily focused on changing behavior, and while DBT also encompasses behavioral changes, it adds the element of accepting and validating the behavior first. The theory behind the therapy is that by understanding why a particular behavior occurs, it will be easier to make the positive changes necessary to impact the individual’s quality of life.

In the DBT model, the philosophy is that people are doing the best they can, given their situation and they would like to see those situations improve. While a problem may not be a person’s fault, the individual must take responsibility for resolving it. The therapy also instills a belief that people can change their behaviors to improve their lives. This thought process can be invaluable to someone who is struggling with addiction.

Goals of DBT

There are four primary goals or stages the therapist and client will work to achieve during DBT that are very applicable to addiction treatment:

Out of Control to In Control

Addiction is frequently characterized by reckless and even dangerous behavior. During DBT, clients learn skills to minimize the chaos in their lives, through increasing attention, understanding emotions, managing stress and enhancing relationships.

Emotional Unavailability to Emotional Engagement

People may use substances to mask feelings that are too overwhelming to confront and manage. DBT offers the ability to experience those feeling fully without turning to familiar escape and avoidance behaviors.

Ordinary Life, Ordinary Problem-Solving Skills This stage focuses on common life issues like resolving relationship conflicts, problems at work or achieving goals. By addressing these ordinary problems, clients can increase their level of happiness and their quality of life overall.

Incomplete to Complete

Once individuals receive a taste of the joy they can attain in the third phase, they work on expanding their capacity to experience joy in the fourth and final stage. To bring clients closer to this goal, they are taught to find a sense of connection to the world around them.

Four Parts of DBT

DBT is a comprehensive treatment therapy that involves four basic components:

Group Therapy

Skills groups are used during DBT to allow individuals with similar issues to work together with a therapist to learn skills that help them stop their self-destructive behaviors. Skills are taught in a classroom model, with clients assigned homework at the end of the session to hone those new skills outside of therapy.

Individual Therapy

One-on- one counseling allows the individual to work directly with the therapist to address issues specific to the person. Past issues will be covered, while current problems will also be addressed as they arise. The goal of individual therapy is to ensure the client remains motivated to continue treatment and to be able to apply the concepts learned during therapy to daily life.

Therapist Consultation

Team consultations are utilized by therapists throughout DBT to ensure their clients are receiving the best possible care. These group consultations are specially designed for therapists to help them remain motivated and focused while overseeing this challenging therapy modality.

Clients will also complete regular homework assignments in addition to participation in these components of the therapy, to help them identify emotions and learn the skills necessary to control their behaviors and make positive choices in their lives.

The DBT Process

When DBT is used in addiction treatment, it is effective in helping clients abstain from substance use, manage painful withdrawal symptoms, reduce cravings, avoid situational triggers, build sober friendships and engage in healthy sober activities. Using the four components of DBT synergistically, Infinity clinicians ally with patients to address four key DBT modules:

  • Mindfulness: Focusing on the present rather than the past or future and accepting experiences without judgment.
  • Interpersonal relationships: Safeguarding friendships and family relationships while learning to establish limits and boundaries.
  • Emotional regulation: Learning to identify emotions and respond in a measured way—without acting impulsively.
  • Distress tolerance: Developing coping skills that allow you to persevere through a crisis without turning to drugs or alcohol.

The Importance of Experience when Pursuing DBT

Partnering with licensed therapists trained to administer DBT is the first step toward a positive therapeutic outcome. At Infinity Malibu, our team of trained DBT experts works with chemically dependent and dual-diagnosis clients to provide them the highest level of care and the greatest odds of a successful recovery.

Dialectical behavioral therapy teaches that individuals are doing the best they can, but that they are seeking improvement and have infinite ability to change. DBT’s proven success rate extends to drug abuse, alcoholism, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mood disorders. We are equipped to use DBT in both group and individual settings—depending on a client’s needs.

Change Your Life, Change Your Legacy

At Infinity Malibu, we create safe, inviting environments where genuine and lasting change can take place. Relying on DBT as one part of our therapeutic spectrum, we help guests find their new direction. DBT is backed by scientific evidence, and Infinity staff members have witnessed its success among hundreds of residential and outpatient clients.

Change begins today. Call (844) 254-7345 to restore your self-image, become more assertive, and tap into your infinite potential. Experience the support of a transformational therapy community or speak with a caseworker about admissions details and get the help you need to start on a path of greater health, recovery and long-term sobriety.