Dialectical behavioural therapy, or DBT, is a type of therapy often used in treating addiction and other mental health conditions. As a whole, the therapeutic modality is centred around two overarching opposites: acceptance and change. Its techniques have evolved to become an evidence-based psychotherapeutic approach used to treat many conditions.

The core techniques that are often used are mindfulness, individual therapy, group therapy, and phone coaching. When seeking dialectical behavioural therapy, it’s important to speak to a trained professional who can better assess your situation. Our friendly and helpful admissions team are available 24 hours a day to make the appropriate treatment recommendations for your or your loved one’s situation. 

What Does Dialectical Mean?

It might be worth defining this before even diving into what dialectical behavioural therapy is and how it can help those suffering from addiction or other mental health disorders. Dialectics, in essence, is the concept that everything is composed of opposites. Think of two opposing truths that relate to your life. This could be a statement like “I’m doing the best I can AND I want to be doing better”. Change can happen when there is a meeting between opposing forces, a dialogue as it were. In DBT, the central opposing ideas are acceptance and change. 

What Is DBT?

DBT is a type of cognitive behavioural treatment with the primary aim of helping individuals manage negative emotions. It emphasises psychotherapy and group skills training to help improve everyday life. DBT combines three theories, the biosocial theory is just one of these. Biosocial theory outlines how a Borderline Personality Disorder occurs. It also explains that some people are born with emotional vulnerability which makes them more susceptible to developing this type of disorder. 

If your environment lacks structure and stability, it allows any negative emotional responses to intensify and influence destructive behavioural patterns such as suicidal behaviour or substance abuse. Zen Buddhism is another biosocial theory that encourages the presence of mind to help you assess situations in a calm and objective way by evaluating the facts and focusing on one thing at a time. Dialectic theory can help you in accepting the parts of you that you don’t like and is designed to provide the motivation you need to make necessary changes. 

How Does DBT Work?

The first stage of DBT is designed to help you gain control over any problematic behaviours such as substance abuse, self-harm or suicidal ideations in those moments that you feel low. During the second stage of DBT, your behaviour will be more stable. Emotional pain will be brought up and explored along with any traumatic events that may have contributed to your disorder. The ultimate goal is to confront painful emotions rather than ignore them. The third stage of therapy is meant to improve your quality of life by encouraging you to maintain goals that promote happiness and stability. Similarly, the fourth stage is designed to help you achieve ongoing happiness and success. 

What Skills are Learned in DBT?

If you’re participating in DBT, you can take what you learn in therapy and apply it to everyday life. Individualised behavioural treatment plans can help significantly reduce the behaviours that are negatively impacting your life. Ideally, you would attend therapy and skills training groups every week as part of DBT, as well as developing behavioural skills through group work and homework in order to practice learned skills. Phone therapy is also available if necessary, and allows you to contact your therapist for support when a challenging situation occurs.

This type of therapy uses skills such as: 

Emotional regulation: the ability to identify and label your emotions. Recognising when intense, overwhelming, and distressing emotions and learning how to express these emotions in a positive and healthy manner

Interpersonal effectiveness: to learn how to be assertive in relationships. This includes saying no and expressing your needs. To learn how to effectively and actively listen, communicate more effectively and calmly, deal with challenging people, and respect yourself and others

Mindfulness: to learn how to live in the moment, appreciate the present and pay attention to physical and emotional sensations without judgment. Slowing down and focusing on healthy coping strategies in the midst of emotional pain and distress

Distress tolerance: to accept yourself and the current situation. Other techniques within distress tolerance as an overall skill include self-soothing, distraction and improving the moment.

Who Benefits from DBT?

While originally used to help treat Borderline Personality Disorder, DBT is now commonly utilised across various mental conditions like PTSD, self-harm, and addiction. DBT has been proven very effective in treating patients and in reducing suicide attempts.

DBT might also be an effective treatment for individuals who suffer from the following:

  • Personality disorder
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Eating disorder
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Depression
  • Self-harm
  • PTSD
  • Substance abuse disorder
  • Suicidal behaviour/thoughts
  • Negative self-image
  • Low self-esteem

How To Start DBT

The best way to find out if DBT is the right style of treatment for you, it’s advised to talk with a professional who is trained in this particular method. They may do an assessment in order to see if DBT is right for you. If you or a loved one might benefit from DBT, talk with a healthcare provider or mental health professional in confidence, and they may be able to put you in touch with a DBT specialist therapist if they aren’t one themselves. 

DBT at CATCH Recovery

Rehab can provide you with the tools you need to live a life free from addiction, and admitting you need help is the first step towards recovery. DBT is just one of the many evidence-based therapies used at CATCH. 

If you’re looking for addiction treatment in South East England that offers an exceptional quality of care, our London-based rehab clinic is an ideal solution. If you need support but don’t live in the South East of England, you may benefit from the tele-health services we offer. If you require residential rehab, we also provide referrals to rehabs in the UK and Ireland. Call us today to discuss the different options that are available.