DBT is part of CBT
Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a particular form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that is commonly used to treat multiple types of mental health disorders. Often, DBT is used to treat patients with borderline personality disorder or bipolar disorder. The theory behind this approach is that certain emotional situations will illicit intense reactions from certain people. Primarily, these are situations involved with relationships, such as family members, friends or romantic partners.
The idea is that some people are more sensitive to emotional stimuli, and these individuals’ emotions tend to spike more quickly than the average person. Therefore, it takes time for this kind of person to recover emotionally after experiencing these intense emotional experiences. In many cases, they may lack the coping strategies necessary to deal with their high surges in emotion.
Dialectical behavioral therapy is used to teach them to regulate their emotions in a healthier way. A DBT therapist consistently works with an individual to find ways to hold two seemingly opposite perspectives at once, promoting balance. This helps to avoid black and white, all-or-nothing styles of thinking. Therefore, you could say that the dialectic at the core of DBT is all about acceptance and healthy change.
DBT Has Two Main Components
There are two components of dialectical behavioral therapy that can be combined to create amazing results for individuals struggling with substance abuse and trauma.
- Individual weekly psychotherapy sessions:
Individual sessions on a weekly basis help focus on problem-solving behaviors for issues and conerns that may have come up through the week. The weekly sessions in DBT focus on decreasing and dealing with post-traumatic stress response from previous trauma and helping a person enhance self-worth.
- Weekly group therapy sessions:
A qualified DBT therapist leads group sessions that give patients the chance to learn skills related to interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance/reality acceptance skills, emotion regulation, and mindfulness skills.
The Three Formats of DBT
When engaging in dialectical behavioral therapy, there are three common formats utilized.
Cognitive-based DBT helps with identifying the harmful thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions that influence an individual’s life. Therefore, cognitive-based works to acquire new ways of thinking that makes life more manageable.
With support-oriented DBT, the focus is all about helping a person identify their strengths and build on them. This helps them to have a deeper connection with positive feelings about themselves and about their future.
This form of DBT works in a collaborative environment so all parties are more engaged in the recovery process. Patients are encouraged to address relationship conflicts they may have with their therapist and therapists are told to do the same. Collaborative DBT may ask patients to complete homework assignments, role-play and practice coping skills. Then, the therapist works one-on-one with the patient to help them master newly developed DBT skills.
Four Modules of Dialectical Behavior Therapy
During dialectical behavioral therapy, there are typically four modules. These modules are each a focus of development. They are the primary objectives of DBT treatments, including:
- Emotion Regulation
People who struggle with mental health and substance use disorders often struggle with an emotional intensity not many others understand. One of the primary objectives of DBT is teaching emotional regulation by employing tactics such as:
- Identifying and cataloging emotions
- Recognizing obstacles to changing emotions
- Reducing susceptibility to being controlled by their emotions
- Increasing positive emotional events
- Promoting mindfulness to emotions in the moment
- Taking actions that defy emotional triggers
People struggling with substance use disorder have a better chance of establishing emotional recovery when they learn more about emotion regulation.
Mindfulness is a huge part of comprehensive wellness. Dialectical behavioral therapy also teaches clients about the core principles of mindfulness. In recovery, a little bit of mindfulness goes a long way. Here, individuals focus on improving their ability to be present with their emotions and to accept them without judgment.
- Distress Tolerance
Another objective of dialectical behavior therapy approaches positive mental health by changing the reaction to distressing events and circumstances. In essence, it is all about being able to withstand distress without succumbing to it. This isn’t about escaping the hard times, but about surviving and overcoming them.
- Interpersonal Effectiveness
This principle focuses on building and maintaining positive relationships. DBT works to help individuals reduce negative emotions towards others, while also standing their ground and sustaining self-respect during moments of conflict. These skills are especially helpful to people who struggle with borderline personality disorder, or who have attachment issues.
Dialectical behavioral therapy is effective in helping those who battle with intense emotions, as well as those who struggle to cultivate and maintain healthy relationships. For those who suffer from substance use disorder, both these criteria are often easy to find. Palm Partners believes every last bit of emotional stability matters. By offering opportunities to utilize dialectical behavioral therapy, our clients may have a stronger foundation for building a support system and maintaining their recovery after treatment.