One of the greatest therapy advancements in recent decades is dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). This therapy is one type of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), with goals of helping people more effectively deal with stress, emotions, and relationships. DBT also helps you be mindful by living in the moment more so than in your past or obsessing over future concerns. In fact, DBT helps you go through a sort of renewal in how you live your everyday life and approaches to things that once troubled you.
About Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Dialectical behavior therapy works well for some behavioral health problems, such as borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, PTSD, and substance use disorder. It also works well in an anxiety treatment program. First developed in the late 1980s, DBT uses techniques on top of other CBT approaches.
DBT comes from dialectics, a philosophy of everything being made of opposites. In dialectics, change happens when one opposite is stronger than the other. To therapists using DBT, this means that all things in your behavior intersect. It also means that your most authentic truth forms around opposites within you working together. For you, it means you work with your therapist to bring the right balance of self-acceptance and change.
Of course, when you go through a dialectical behavior therapy program at Phoenix Rising in Palm Springs, California, you do not need to worry about the roots or meaning of DBT. You simply follow your therapist’s lead. They guide you through the process best suited to your most complete healing. Through healing and understanding yourself better, you enable yourself to build the life you really want.
What Does DBT Look Like?
DBT takes place in both individual and group therapy sessions. In a group, you learn behavioral skills among your peers in recovery. You often receive homework assignments as part of this therapy or spend time in role-playing exercises in the group setting.
For one-on-one therapy, your dialectical behavior therapy program adapts what you learn in a group to your unique needs. Sometimes DBT also includes on-the-spot coaching for guidance during difficult moments of rehab.
The four main ways your therapist helps you change your behavior in a dialectical behavior therapy program include:
- Distress tolerance
- Interpersonal effectiveness
- Emotion regulation
In other words, you learn to live in the moment while accepting yourself and your current situation. You also learn how to work through or accept crises and stress. For relationships, you learn how to build a healthy, positive relationship where you have the space to express your own needs. You also build better-coping skills for your negative emotions in balance with enjoying more positive emotional moments.
Mindfulness is imperative when it comes to dialectical behavior therapy; it could even be considered the cornerstone for the other three modules. Practicing mindfulness allows you to live in the moment. This means taking a breath and observing everything around you rather than letting it pass you by for cheaper thrills.
One of the purposes of learning mindfulness is the fact that it can help someone garner self-control as opposed to being impulsive. Slowing down and controlling oneself is an important part of learning healthy coping mechanisms. Before someone can be mindful, however, they must practice mindfulness. One way to do this is through breathing.
The purpose of distress tolerance is similar to mindfulness in that overall, it aims to help someone accept themselves and the circumstance they are currently experiencing. There are four ways to learn this in distress tolerance:
- Drawing up a pros and cons list of not tolerating distress
- Making a bad moment better
Those who learn these techniques and buy into them will be equipped with skills to handle the emotions they experience more healthily than before. Unfortunately, not all therapies encourage tolerance, but that’s fine. Different methods work for different individuals, but DBT aims to teach and encourage tolerance.
Practicing distress tolerance can be difficult. After all, tolerating the worst that life has to offer is not for the faint of heart. However, it can strengthen the faint of heart if they are willing to put their body in charge. They can do this by allowing their emotions to move with their body. Ultimately, the goal here is to distract oneself. For example, if they’re sitting down, they could walk around, or if they’re walking around in one area, they can go to a different area and bask in the change of scenery.
Interpersonal effectiveness can push someone to become more assertive with their family, friends, loved ones, and coworkers while keeping a healthy balance of positivity in those relationships. This helps those with borderline personality disorder who have trouble maintaining relationships. Those who participate will learn to balance positivity in their relationships. They’ll also acquire the skills needed to deal with those who can be a little more difficult while maintaining respect for themselves.
One of the exercises used with interpersonal effectiveness is GIVE, which is an acronym for the following:
- Gentle: Do not threaten or attack an individual.
- Interest: Practice good listening skills by showing interest. This can be done by waiting until a person is finished talking before responding.
- Validate: Acknowledge the person’s feelings and thoughts.
- Easy: Practice an easy-going attitude. For example, be lighthearted, smile, and don’t take anything too seriously.
Emotion regulation helps an individual handle the intense emotions they feel towards a particular situation by identifying them, naming them, and changing them. This may be easier said than done, but if it can be done, it’ll allow an individual to have more positive experiences and lessen their likelihood of feeling vulnerable.
One of the most common exercises in emotion regulation is the opposite action. Opposite action is exactly how it sounds — practicing the opposite of what someone may be feeling. For example, someone may be feeling withdrawn and sad. If this is the case, it may be best to go see friends and family. This doesn’t work for everyone, but it has been proven successful in the case of many.
How Will DBT Help Me?
- Cognitive: DBT will help an individual learn to change their beliefs, thoughts, actions, and behaviors that aren’t helpful or productive to their overall well-being.
- Behavioral: The behavioral aspect of DBT involves replacing destructive patterns with healthier ones.
- Skill sets: The skills someone learns in DBT will help them grow their potential.
- Support: Therapists and peers will encourage individuals to acknowledge their strengths and help apply them.
- Collaboration: Those who participate do so with their therapist and psychiatrist, who show them how to work as a team and communicate successfully with others.
- Change and acceptance: Tolerating oneself, your thoughts, behaviors, and past is an important aspect of acceptance and changing behavior for the better.
Benefits of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
There are a great number of benefits to be reaped in dialectical behavioral therapy. For example, most of the time DBT is used to treat those with borderline personality disorder; those who are treated can improve how they interact in their relationships.
DBT also helps individuals build up the strength to be more assertive while maintaining a positive view of themselves and others. This is another way to say they’ve learned self-respect, which is one of the best ways to overcome addiction. When someone respects themselves enough to say no to their substance use disorder, they can rest assured that their treatment has been successful.
Helpful Tips for Being Successful in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
There are many ways in which an individual can be successful when participating in DBT. Some of these include:
- Show up: To get the most out of therapy, you must show up to each session. It sounds obvious, but it can become very easy to put off therapy. Even if you don’t want to go, you’ll contribute to your emotion regulation skills by practicing the opposite action.
- Pay attention: To truly see the success of your therapy, you need to pay attention. It’s difficult when it’s been a long day, and life has been nothing but stressful, but being present will enable you to get the most out of your experience.
- Participate: Participating in the first few minutes of DBT is imperative to the momentum of the whole session.
- Take notes: Note-taking has been known to improve retention rates from middle school to professional environments. Taking notes in DBT will help you retain what you’ve learned so that you can put this into words, and put these words into behaviors.
Do I Need Dialectical Behavior Therapy?
In truth, you don’t need to worry about whether you need dialectical behavior therapy. Instead, you simply let your therapist guide you through the best methods for a better life in recovery. Through this trust, you grow and experience renewal without stress over whether you need DBT, CBT, or other types of therapy.
In Palm Springs, California, Phoenix Rising provides dialectical behavior therapy along with an array of other therapies and treatment programs.
Programs and therapies of Phoenix Rising include:
- Medically supervised detox
- Residential, PHP, IOP and Outpatient rehab programs
- Dual diagnosis treatment
- Extended care 90-day rehab
- Individual, group and family therapy
- Equine therapy, fitness, jacuzzi, swimming pool, and recreation
- Alumni events, sober living, and aftercare
Get the Help You Need Today
For yourself or someone you love, talk to Phoenix Rising about the struggles you face with substance abuse. By choosing the right Palm Springs program for your recovery, you enable yourself to experience true renewal in mind, body, and spirit. Some of this renewal comes through dialectical behavior therapy. Contact Phoenix Rising now to discuss treatment options.