How Can Dialectical Behavior Therapy Support My Recovery Journey?

How Can Dialectical Behavior Therapy Support My Recovery Journey?

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Clients coping with substance use disorder (SUD) or other mental health disorders require a variety of therapies to help them create a healthy life. Some clients require less intensive services, while others may need a more hands-on approach or services that provide greater intensity. For instance, clients may opt for an inpatient program over an outpatient program to receive more intensive care upfront. One therapy service that is better suited for clients needing more intensive care is dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).

First Steps Recovery offers dialectical behavior therapy as one of its evidence-based clinical therapy options. With the help of their care team, clients can judge whether DBT is right for them. 

What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

DBT is a type of talk therapy for clients experiencing intense emotions and/or who have difficulty regulating and managing these emotions. Sometimes clients turn to self-harm or destructive habits due to these intense emotions, and DBT provides these clients with a healthy outlet. Learning how to healthily express oneself is a crucial element in the overall healing and recovery journey. 

DBT works to assist clients in accepting their life’s reality, understanding their thoughts and behaviors, and realizing that these thoughts and behaviors contribute to their reality. With a therapist, clients are guided through a process of becoming less reactive to situations in order to produce healthier behaviors and better manage their lives overall. By participating in DBT, clients feel validated and gain a clearer perception of their emotions so that they can take their lives into their own hands. 

DBT sessions normally occur once a week for roughly an hour per session. Group therapies are sometimes offered alongside DBT once a week for about 1.5 to 2.5 hours as well. Individual consultation with the client’s team also occurs. These therapy interventions allow clients to express their feelings and emotions in a healthy way. First Steps Recovery offers both CBT and DBT for clients looking to partake in talk therapy.

What Is the Difference Between Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?

DBT is based on cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which is a very well-known form of therapy that involves becoming more aware of one’s thoughts. While DBT stems from CBT, DBT is more adapted to clients with exceptionally strong emotions and feelings. The therapeutic option of DBT has similarities with CBT. However, it goes further to address emotions more intensively.  In other words, CBT is mainly concerned with restructuring thoughts and DBT is more emotion-based.

Focusing on Thoughts: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

In CBT sessions, therapists concern themselves largely with clients’ thoughts. The principles of CBT include believing that psychological problems are impacted by one’s thoughts. A foundational belief of CBT is that clients can relieve themselves of psychological symptoms by learning and practicing healthier thought patterns and resulting behaviors. For example, many people with anxiety disorders have found CBT to be an effective form of talk therapy. 

Focusing on Emotions: Dialectical Behavior Therapy

DBT, on the other hand, has a greater focus on improving emotional regulation, promoting one’s ability to have healthy relationships, and increasing tolerance to distressing situations. This therapy also incorporates mindfulness or acceptance-oriented interventions. 

While the principles of CBT remain strong in DBT, DBT encompasses the needs of clients who require much more intensive therapy. Clients in DBT often have difficulty regulating their emotions, which is a primary function of the therapy. CBT, while very beneficial to many clients, does not provide the extra level of care that DBT does. Generally speaking, when clients experience suicidal thoughts, behaviors, and/or tendencies, DBT is the recommended talk therapy. 

How Do I Know if DBT Is Right for Me?

DBT is often suggested for clients healing from borderline personality disorder (BPD). Clients with BPD often experience suicidal thoughts and behaviors, which is why DBT is better suited to their therapy needs. Aside from BPD, this therapy is also useful for clients coping with substance use disorder (SUD), binge-eating disorders, and depression.

First Steps Recovery treats SUD and alcohol use disorder (AUD) in addition to a wide variety of mental health disorders. DBT can be helpful to people with a variety of mental health concerns, and it is ultimately up to the practitioner to decide whether or not it is appropriate in each case. 

First Steps Recovery Offers Support

First Steps Recovery offers services for clients coping with the following mental health concerns: 

  • Attention-deficit disorder (ADD)
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Other trauma-related disorders
  • Schizophrenia

DBT may be one of the treatments used for these conditions. Through DBT and other services, First Steps Recovery strives to improve the overall quality of life in clients throughout treatment and beyond. DBT can help reduce suicide attempts, prevent self-harm, minimize days spent in inpatient treatment, decrease suicidal ideation, reduce impulsivity, ameliorate anger, and alleviate various mental health symptoms. 

Sometimes clients feel misunderstood or criticized, leading them to stop treatment abruptly. First Steps Recovery works to validate all clients and their emotions as they undergo the healing process. Healing is a complex journey. Having a therapy option like DBT is there to help clients navigate this challenging process with greater success. 

At First Steps Recovery, clients who experience intense feelings or thoughts are often provided the option of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). DBT is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) that benefits clients with borderline personality disorder (BPD), substance use disorder (SUD), binge-eating disorders, and depression. When suicidal thoughts or tendencies arise, DBT is also beneficial. DBT therapy is more emotion-based, validating clients’ emotional experiences in order to understand where these emotions stem from. CBT, on the other hand, focuses mainly on the clients’ thoughts and understanding how those thoughts influence their emotions and behaviors. In short, DBT offers a more intensive approach to talk therapy. To learn more about talk therapy options at First Steps Recovery, please call (844) 489-0836.

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