Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dealing with any type of addiction can be an extremely difficult process for anyone. Whether you are the person suffering from the addiction or a family member or loved one who is helping someone along in their struggles you want to try to find the best treatment possible to help get the person back on the right track.

For some people this means trying to find types of treatment and therapy that may be outside some of the traditional methods used as these methods may not prove to be as effective. Because of this there are some treatment centers that are now undertaking the use of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) as a primary form of therapy for rehabilitation and addiction treatment.

What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy, or DBT as it is familiarly called, is a type of cognitive therapy that is somewhat new in the treatments for addiction. First developed and used by Dr. Marsha Linehan at the University of Washington, this type of therapy is designed to target patients that may be hard to reach or have had difficulty with traditional therapy methods and have not had success with them.

Dr. Linehan found that patients who had struggled with issues such as borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, PTSD or other trauma in their lives needed a different type of program in order to be reached properly and effectively beyond traditional tactics that often involved a confrontation of some kind. This led to the development of DBT and it has been found in recent years to be effective in working with those that may have substance abuse issues.

The Basics of Addiction Treatment by Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical Behavior Therapy rehabilitation does differ from some of the standard, traditional therapy methods often used in addiction treatment, which has helped to make it more effective for some patients.

DBT, at its core, takes a great deal of its understandings and processes from Buddhist teachings and instruction, which is designed to help a person gain a much stronger sense of self-awareness through introspection to see how their behaviors and actions have affected their own lives and the lives of others. Some of the basics of addiction treatment by Dialectical Behavior Therapy include:

  • Restoration of Self-Image – This is at the core of DBT and why it works well for some patients where other treatments have failed. Many patients fail with traditional methods because they cannot handle the confrontational methods of therapy where they are put on the spot and forced to deal with issues. For those that have a poor self-image because of trauma they may have experienced in life this confrontation can cause them to shut down. In DBT, work is done to help build the self-image and self-awareness back up so that the patient learns to better deal with their own emotions, accept themselves as they are and restore their image and self-worth.
  • Tolerance and Acceptance – At the core of DBT is the teaching that goes on to instruct patients to learn not only greater tolerance of others and their actions but greater tolerance of distressing, stressful and traumatic events and feelings. Through this instruction patients can learn a higher level of acceptance and learn how to act more appropriately in these situations instead of shutting down or turning back towards abuse and addictive lifestyles.
  • No Treatments are Alike – Even though some treatments involving DBT may take place in a group counseling session, no DBT treatments are exactly like another because of the nature of the therapy. DBT is an individualized therapeutic approach that deals specifically with each patient as an individual and the traumas they have faced in the past to help them cope with issues in the present and future. Each case stands on its own and each person is taught different mechanisms and approaches in order to find the root causes of their addiction and how they can make the necessary changes to move on in their lives.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is relatively new and is still growing and being adapted by many addiction treatment facilities as an effective method of reaching patients to achieve successful results.