A form of comprehensive cognitive behavioural treatment, dialectical behavioural therapy for addiction is intended initially to treat borderline personality disorder but later adapted to treat many mental health conditions. Be it depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, substance use disorder, eating disorders, and suicidal and self-destructive behaviors, DBT has been proven helpful. The main goal of dialectical behavioural therapy is to teach people how to live a positive life, develop coping mechanisms to deal with stress, improve social relationships, and regulate emotions.
Techniques of Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)
DBT for addiction has evolved into an evidence-based psychotherapy approach, typically carried out in different settings. And each mode of treatment is intended to meet a specific function. A few settings in which DBT are often used include:
Group Skills Training
In group settings, patients are taught behavioral skills in each session, which typically runs for 2 to 3 hours once a week. It doesn’t have to be confused with group therapy, where you can discuss your problems or share experiences with others. Instead, it is more like a classroom setting where your therapist aims to enhance your capabilities in day-to-day life.
In individual psychotherapy sessions, clients are taught to apply the learnt DBT skills to specific life challenges and events. For the whole duration of therapy, the sessions usually occur once a week, and clients are asked to complete their homework outside the sessions. The assignment includes maintaining daily diary cards, which track their behaviors, emotions, and thoughts.
Also, individual DBT therapy for addiction has the following goals:
- To reduce self-destructive and self-harming behaviors to keep you safe.
- To limit negative behaviors that hinder effective therapy.
- Help improve life quality and address mental health conditions or relationship issues blocking your progress.
- To help you learn new skills.
Unlike other therapies, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) offers on-call support to the patients. The phone coaching facility lets you call your therapist anytime to get advice between sessions. The goal of phone coaching is to help clients put their DBT skills into practice whenever required. However, your client will set clear time boundaries about when you can contact them.
Other strategies and techniques used in DBT include:
Mindfulness skills are one of the most crucial benefits of dialectical behavioral therapy for addiction. By developing mindfulness skills, you can focus on your present and pay attention to what is happening inside and in your surroundings. Mindfulness skills help you stay calm, use healthy coping skills amid emotional pain, and avoid adverse and impulsive behaviors.
Distress intolerance involves the skills that help you understand and manage your emotions during a crisis. And DBT for addiction teaches several techniques to handle this crisis, including:
- Improving the moment
Also, distress tolerance techniques prepare you for intense emotions and empower you to cope.
Interpersonal effectiveness is another component of DBT that aims to teach individuals to understand their needs and communicate them with others while keeping the relationship healthy and positive. In other words, it helps you become more assertive in a relationship. This technique also helps individuals build problem-solving skills, listening skills, and an entrusting relationship with others.
With the help of the emotion regulation technique, you will be able to recognize your intense emotions and cope with them. It lets you navigate your powerful feelings more effectively, such as looking at every situation positively. Also, it reduces your emotional vulnerability and helps you have more control over your emotions.
Stages of Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)
Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, or DBT is divided into four stages of treatment:
Stage 1: the most severe and self-destructive behaviors are addressed at this stage, such as suicidal behaviors and self-injury.
Stage 2: this stage moves on to address issues that affect a person’s quality of life.
Stage 3: issues related to self-esteem and interpersonal relationships are focused on in this stage.
Stage 4: at this stage, treatment is focused on helping people find greater happiness, pursue their life goals, and strengthen their relationships.
Benefits of Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)
Completing DBT for addiction may result in a few positive changes, which include:
- You will learn new coping mechanisms or skills to enhance your capabilities and cope with stress.
- You will learn to recognize and replace disturbing behaviors with more positive ones.
- Cognitive changes, including alteration of negative thoughts and beliefs about self.
- Collaborating with others or working as a team, especially in group settings.
- It would help if you accepted that some things don’t change and cannot be controlled, but you can respond to them healthily.
How to Get Started with Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)?
Dialectical Behavioural Therapy or DBT for addiction is an effective treatment method that helps people cultivate healthy relationships and cope with intense, negative emotions. Although it may be difficult and time-consuming to find the right treatment center providing therapy for addiction, the best way to find out if dialectical behavioral therapy is right for you is to talk with a professional therapist. The therapist will evaluate the symptoms, examine your treatment history, and understand your goals to determine if DBT is good for you. The therapist can also help you cope with an existential crisis and calm you down when you have suicidal feelings. When looking for a DBT therapist, there are a few questions that you can ask them to double-check their authenticity. These questions include:
- What is your experience and training in DBT?
- How many patients have you treated before?
- Are you a certified DBT expert?
- Are you a part of the consultation team?
Asking around can also help. For example, check with your neighbors and local therapists, or enquire in a medical rehab centre to find leads. You may also find certified DBT therapists online. The sooner you start the therapy and stay committed to it, the sooner you return to your original, stress-free life. You have to be courageous and take this intimidating step today!
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