Dialectical Behavior Therapy – First Steps Recovery

What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

In addiction treatment, there are various approaches to explore in helping a person understand the underlying issues involved in their substance abuse. People with substance use disorder typically fall under the control of drugs or alcohol because they have aspects of their life that need deeper treatment.

Often there is a loss of control over emotions as well as difficulties in maintaining healthy relationships, behaviors, and stress levels in their lives. One way to help a person with these kinds of concerns is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). DBT is a combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and mindfulness practices and it has a goal of helping a person find a healthy balance in their life. There is often a good deal of acceptance of individuals with the intention of helping people move forward toward specific goals rather than find themselves stuck in how they are perceived.

History of DBT

When Dr. Marsha Linehan developed Dialectical Behavior Therapy, it was to assist her patients—many of them had borderline personality issues along with suicide contemplations. Today, it is used in other wide areas to treat patients. The objective of this therapy is to support the patient’s efforts as they are motivated to focus on making a life worthy of living.

Who Can Benefit?

DBT is derived from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). However, some modification had to be included for it to be effective. Apart from resolving addiction disorders, DBT also works for people with depression, bipolar, PTSD, anxiety, and eating disorders.

As the name suggests, dialectic means harmonizing two different aspects. The goal of this therapy is for patients to achieve change and acceptance. It looks to help individuals move away from black-and-white absolutes. This kind of right/wrong negative thinking often produces behaviors that align with feelings of failure. It’s all or nothing, and it makes people believe that if they are not perfect they are a failure. In contrast to this, DBT seeks to promote balance. It is a dialectical approach that encourages the balance of opposites instead of “either-or.”

The Four Keys to DBT

DBT helps people with addiction build skills in four specific areas:

  1. Mindfulness

Helping people find the ability to accept the current moment for what it is in reality and live in the here-and-now with focus and free from anxiety.

  1. Distress Tolerance

When emotions are high and circumstances seem overwhelming, distress tolerance helps people handle the situation without being destructive or trying to avoid/escape.

  1. Emotion Regulation

This key helps individuals reign in intense emotions and keep them from causing more problems, adding to whatever is happening in a person’s life.

  1. Interpersonal effectiveness

This helps someone express healthy needs, as well as understand their outlook in relation to the presence of others around them. Self-respect, as well as the respect for others, is significant in this key area.

Addiction Treatment

Because acceptance and change are essential principles in treating addiction, DBT is a powerful approach for combating dependency and substance abuse. Individuals need to accept that they have a problem that needs a solution. After acknowledging it, the next step is identifying various changes to produce positive behaviors and lifestyle. Particularly, therapists help patients identify their strengths and embrace them. At the same time, change the negative aspects of their behaviors, beliefs, views, and attitudes.

Group Skills

Apart from the patient and therapist bond, the alliance also needs to extend to other people close to the patient. For instance, support groups should be incorporated in the recovery process of the patient. This can also eventually move out to include the support of family and friends. That inclusion is important because support groups are instrumental in recovery life and often make the difference in overall treatment success.

Addiction and the behaviors that coincide with it are difficult to overcome. Willpower alone is typically ineffective in helping a person confront the many issues that contribute to substance use disorders. Along with the desire and motivation to make important changes, DBT can provide specific skills that confront root issues that foster movement toward substance abuse.

This is the key to lasting recovery. Building skills that work in concordance with a desire for change and a program that offers the right direction and support for true transformation.

Real Help

Do you or your loved one need professional help to build and sustain skills that will confront the deepest issues of addiction? First Steps Recovery is a treatment center that offers all of these things. Please call us today. We are available to help you understand the bigger issues at play in addiction and create a program that will help you find lasting recovery. Call now, 1-844-489-0836.

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