When treating an addiction, a mental illness or both, behavioral therapy is often an effective method. Dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT, is a proven means of helping patients. Explore what DBT means, what techniques therapists use and why we use this as a treatment method at 1st Step Behavioral Health.
The Goals of Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Many patients who struggle with addiction, mental illness or co-occurring disorders react strongly to outside stimuli. Their emotional reactions may be stronger than average, causing problems. One goal of DBT is to minimize those strong reactions and manage emotions better.
A major cause of addiction is the inability to manage stress. For some patients, even little things can cause stress. Without a healthy way to manage that stress, it can be overwhelming.
Through DBT, patients learn the difference between valid emotions and extreme emotions. For example, being late to work might seem like a big deal, when in reality it’s not worth worrying about for hours or even days. Gaining perspective, and learning what really warrants extreme emotion, can make a huge difference in people’s lives.
Another goal of dialectical behavior therapy is to minimize the need and desire to rely on addictive substances. Dual diagnosis is when patients struggle with both mental health and addiction. This happens in as many as half of all addiction cases, showing that there’s a strong correlation between the two conditions. Managing mental health can definitely go a long way in reducing the likelihood of relapse.
Flexibility of DBT
Many behavioral therapies are ultimately unsuccessful because patients lose interest or can’t commit to the schedule for an extended period of time. One of the ways that DBT is unique is its flexibility. Patients can continue DBT in four different ways: Individual therapy, skills training, phone coaching and therapist consultations.
Skills training is a group format for DBT. It often lasts an hour or two and allows patients to learn life skills in a group environment. Patients might receive homework, which could include using new skills organically.
Individual therapy is the one-on-one form of DBT. During individual therapy, patients can share personal experiences and work through difficult problems. The goal is to learn coping mechanisms for stressful situations.
Phone coaching is the third means of offering DBT. It can be great for patients who have left residential care but still want to stay connected to their primary therapist. We recommend this as a supplement to other types of therapy, but it works well in high-risk situations with relapse risk.
The fourth method is therapist consultation. This is when therapists communicate in order to best treat their patients.
The Proven Effectiveness of DBT
DBT is a top treatment method because it’s incredibly effective. Patients often experience less anger and depression. They also have a lower risk of suicidal or self-harming behaviors, and the risk of relapse reduces.
The reason that DBT can be such an effective drug addiction treatment is because it helps develop key behavioral skills. Mindfulness, for example, is a major focus. Emotional regulation, distress tolerance and interpersonal effectiveness are three more priorities of therapy.
Using DBT in a Comprehensive Recovery Plan at 1st Steps Behavioral
At 1st Steps Behavioral, recovery is a comprehensive process. DBT is just one of the many types of addiction therapy available. This approach means that patients receive better, more effective care that we can personalize to their needs. Some of the treatment methods and therapies we offer include:
- Family therapy
- Group counseling
- Relapse prevention education
- Massage therapy
- Art and music therapies
Dialectical behavior therapy is just one of the ways to target addiction for good. At 1st Step Behavioral Health in Pompano Beach, Florida, you can start your journey to recovery. Call (866) 319-6126 to embrace the life you deserve today.