What is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

What is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

When it comes to therapy, there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. Every person, every mental health disorder, every issue responds differently to different types of therapy. That’s why there are dozens of varieties of clinical-based therapy options. One of the most commonly used for addiction treatment, trauma and co-occurring disorders is dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). This type of therapy is primarily based on giving individuals the skills they need to cope with challenges as they arise.

The Four Pillars of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

One of the hallmarks of DBT is the four-pillar approach to mental health. Focusing on these four areas helps people develop the behaviors they need to handle difficult situations.


Meditation and mindfulness are common holistic treatment options for addiction therapy, but they also plan an important role in this evidence-based practice. Being mindful and living in the moment helps people to get in touch with how they’re feeling, both physically and emotionally.

When individuals better understand their feelings, they can step back and avoid engaging in detrimental habits or acting impulsively.

Distress Tolerance

Building tolerance to stress is an important part of learning how to cope since some stressful situations are unavoidable. Through DBT programs, individuals learn how to improve stressful situations, self-soothe, and distract themselves from emotions that may feel too intense.

Interpersonal Effectiveness

Relationships can be challenging for everyone. However, individuals with addiction are often also co-dependent. Learning to set boundaries, express needs, and be assertive in a relationship may feel foreign at first. However, DBT programs teach techniques to do these things in healthy and positive ways, helping to ease tension and allowing everyone to have their needs met.

Emotional Regulation

Putting a name to emotions and being able to feel them fully are important first steps to appropriately regulating emotions. These first steps make it easier to begin handling situations more positively and objectively.

What are the Benefits of DBT?

DBT is especially useful for people who are not comfortable with or in touch with their emotions or in trauma. If you often suppressed your emotions in childhood or are uncomfortable being vulnerable, DBT can help you develop important skillsets. Some other benefits include:

  • Creating strategies for accepting what already is as well as any changes that come
  • Learning to look objectively at your reactions and emotions to better understand where they come from
  • Working together as a team with your therapist or in group therapy; this is especially useful for relationship communication

DBT takes place in both individual therapy settings as well as group therapy. Additionally, DBT also often includes “homework.” This homework might include practicing grounding exercises or trying out meditation as a way to improve mindfulness.

A therapist might also encourage role-playing in a group setting to give individuals a safe space to act out the techniques that they’re learning before they take them back home.

DBT for Addiction Treatment

Individuals beginning the journey to addiction recovery often find DBT beneficial. The focus that it places on getting in touch with the self and emotions can help people with addictions get to know themselves again. Additionally, it can give them the coping strategies that they need to begin improving their mental health and working through cravings.

DBT also encourages individuals battling an addiction to avoid spending time with people who participate in drug or alcohol use and instead to seek out groups that promote sobriety.

Along with holistic treatment, addiction therapies like DBT, CBT, and EMDR can all give people the skills that they need to reach long-term recovery. At RAIN Recovery, you can begin a whole-person approach to recovery, health, and wellness.

If you’re looking for DBT inpatient programs near you, then give us a call today at (818) 208-9446 or contact us online to speak to an admissions counselor.


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