8 Benefits of Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Addiction Treatment

Dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT therapy, is a type of psychotherapy that helps participants cope with life. It promotes skills that focus on acceptance and awareness as a foundation for behavioral change. The skills that participants develop, such as emotional regulation, distress tolerance, improving motivation and reducing dysfunctional behaviors, aren’t just talked about in the addiction treatment rooms. Dialectical behavior therapy involves assimilating the information and practicing it in everyday life. Although dialectical behavior therapy was designed for individuals with borderline personality disorder, it has the following 8 benefits for patients who are managing a broad range of mental health issues, including addiction treatment, eating disorders, depression and self-harm.

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8 Benefits of Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Addiction Treatment

1. Stay in Addiction Treatment

The philosophy of dialectical behavior therapy rests on the idea that people can use the seemingly opposite strategies of acceptance and transformation at the same time. The treatment advanced from evidence-based cognitive-behavioral practices. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, focuses on altering thoughts and behaviors. For some people, concentrating on changing their current state without accepting where they are is invalidating and makes them feel misunderstood. Dialectical behavior therapy reinforces the importance of staying grounded in and aware of the present moment. Building foundational skills during addiction treatment allows you to handle the challenges that come your way. It also allows you to feel acknowledged and accepted as you move through the potentially turbulent world of addiction treatment and recovery. Feeling supported encourages patients to remain in treatment.

2. Get to the Root of Your Emotions

It’s easy to feel like you have no control over your emotions when you can’t name them or identify the source of the upheaval. Dialectical behavior therapy teaches you how to notice, recognize and label emotions that come up. As you improve your emotional intelligence, you’ll learn more about the triggers for these emotions and the patterns that surround them. Understanding the source of the emotional activation allows you to address and treat the root cause. Although you’ll still feel a full range of emotions, you’ll be able to express and process them in a healthier way.

3. Cope With Difficult Moments

Have you ever felt like you had a handle on an intense emotion during therapy only to feel paralyzed upon experiencing that emotion in your regular life? Dialectical behavior therapy expands the principles that you learn in addiction treatment to real-word, everyday scenarios. In dialectical behavior therapy, you’ll create a specific game plan that is tailored to your needs and experiences. Then, you’ll get a chance to practice with your therapist and interpersonal connections throughout your life. You’ll work through exercises that enable you to reflect, manage distress and communicate effectively. Many of these leave you with strategies and scripts to adopt as you move through your day. In this manner, dialectical behavior therapy gives you the confidence to tackle unknown situations. When you are experiencing intense emotions, you can refer to the resources and coping strategies that you’ve been taught, some of which calm your central nervous system instantly.

4. Improve Your Relationships

Healthy relationships provide companionship, support and empathy and are important for effective addiction treatment. However, it’s tough to create strong connections when you’re caught up in detrimental patterns of thinking and reacting. Through dialectical behavior therapy, you’ll learn to distinguish between what’s happening and what is going on in your mind. In the past, you might have reacted to other people based on your mental and emotional stories. When you develop mindfulness, you stay in the present moment, responding to each interaction as it happens. Many people notice that they stay calmer during confrontations with others and have an easier time resolving conflicts after participating in dialectical behavior therapy.

5. Enhance Your Life Skills

Standard dialectical behavior therapy involves weekly skills sessions. These groups involve education, discussion and active practice. Participants are encouraged to complete homework assignments that allow them to apply what they have learned. The life skills that you’ll work on in dialectical behavior therapy include:

  • Emotional regulation
  • Mindfulness
  • Regulating attention
  • Interpersonal effectiveness
  • Distress tolerance

These skills help you become more adaptable in your thinking and behavior. They also guide you toward accepting reality and working with the information that the current situation provides instead of operating from past experiences or traumas. You’ll learn how to give yourself the validation and acceptance that you need so that you feel confident solving problems and managing powerful emotions.

6. Boost Motivation

Lack of motivation may keep you from seeking or continuing addiction treatment. Therefore, dialectical behavior therapy helps maintain your drive to improve your life. With awareness and mindfulness, you’ll identify the behaviors that are consistent with a meaningful life. The skills and practices that you learn help you stay motivated to keep moving in the right direction and avoid behaviors that threaten your life or quality of life.

7. Curb Negative Thinking

Our thoughts often direct our actions, and our judgments influence our thoughts. In dialectical behavior therapy, participants are taught to experience life without judgment. Instead of being viewed as right or wrong, thoughts and behaviors are tied to the goal of improving the quality of life. If certain actions or patterns of thinking aren’t aligned with the participant’s objectives, it’s important to look at them objectively. You’re not a bad person for having certain thoughts or acting a certain way. However, if you continue to stay stuck in a cycle that isn’t serving you, dialectical behavior therapy can help you get out of it without beating yourself up.

8. Prevent Relapse

Dialectical behavior therapy for substance use disorder can help you prevent relapse. Because you’ll learn how to manage distress in healthy ways, you’ll be less likely to use substances to cope with difficult circumstances. The skills that you’ll learn to stop black-and-white thinking, gain new perspectives and react differently than you might have before can help you break the relapse cycle completely.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy at Burning Tree Programs

Burning Tree programs offer flexible long-term or short-term care for those who struggle with addiction. Our addiction treatment center uses DBT therapy methodologies to address the needs of all of our patients. Implementing these approaches can help you or a loved one make a lasting recovery.

Find an Inpatient Rehab Program Now

We are here to help you through every aspect of recovery. Call our admissions team to find the best for long-term recovery.

(866) 287-2877


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