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What Is DBT Therapy? How It Works for Addiction & Techniques

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Dialectical behavior therapy is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. Continue to read more about DBT therapy for addiction treatment.

By We Level Up NJ Treatment Center | Editor Yamilla Francese | Clinically Reviewed By Lauren Barry, LMFT, MCAP, QS, Director of Quality Assurance | Editorial Policy | Research Policy | Last Updated: December 22, 2022

What is DBT Therapy for Addiction Treatment?

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a type of talking therapy based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), but it’s specially adapted for people who intensely feel emotions. It is now widely used by many therapists, counselors, and psychologists for different types of emotional and mental health disorders. It can be used for almost any condition, including alcoholism treatment and drug addiction treatment. Initially, it was used for borderline personality disorder (BPD) and was developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan. [1]

DBT therapy aims to help you:

  • Understand and accept your complex feelings
  • Learn skills to manage them
  • Become able to make positive changes in your life

What does DBT therapy stand for? Dialectical means trying to understand how two opposite things could be true. For instance, accepting yourself and changing your behavior might feel contradictory. However, DBT therapy teaches that you can achieve both of these goals together. The DBT approach is multidimensional and comprehensive and relies on learning skills to change unhelpful thoughts and behaviors that lead to substance abuse.

DBT therapy's ultimate goal is to help you live a life you feel good about. A meaningful, fulfilling life looks different for each person. This is why therapists help people hone in on what’s important to them.
DBT therapy’s ultimate goal is to help you live a life you feel good about. A meaningful, fulfilling life looks different for each person. This is why therapists help people hone in on what’s important to them.

DBT Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Benefits

One benefit of dialectical behavioral therapy is learning skills for “acceptance” and “change.” If you accept something, why would you need to change it? It’s about learning to balance opposites.

A good example is something that takes place in therapy. Therapies are learnings to accept your life and self while making improvements where needed and when the opportunity arises. 

Dialectical behavior therapy is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. When DBT is successful, the patient learns to envision, articulate, pursue, and sustain goals independent of his or her history of out-of-control behavior. Including substance abuse, and it helps them to be better at grappling with life’s everyday problems. DBT’s emphasis on building a life worth living is a broader therapeutic goal than reducing problem behaviors, symptom management, or palliative care.

Other Therapy DBT Benefits Include the Following:

  • Replacing unhealthy behavior patterns with healthy ones
  • Recognizing your strengths and applying them to all areas of your life
  • Improving communication skills
  • Helping you feel more in control of your emotions, relationships, and life
  • Teaching you how to change negative thought processes to avoid impulsive reactions
  • Teaching you how to set priorities, say no, and ask for what you need
  • Implementing mindfulness techniques for better self-care and emotional regulation. You will learn to be more aware of what is happening inside and surrounding you. This will help you make informed decisions out of reason rather than impulse.
  • Learning distress tolerance can help you sort through the things you can and cannot change. You make decisions based on what is factual and logical rather than on your thoughts or feelings about a situation. 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy DBT & Addiction Treatment Statistics

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a highly effective and evidence-based treatment modality that is used to help treat a wide range of mental health and substance abuse disorders. Developed in the 1980s, DBT was initially used for borderline personality disorder treatment and suicidal ideation.

Unfortunately, about 40% of individuals who know they have an alcohol or drug problem are not ready to stop using, and many others feel they do not have a problem or need treatment. Many factors contribute to this “treatment gap,” including the inability to access or afford care, fear of shame and discrimination, and lack of screening for mental health and substance use disorders in general healthcare settings. [2]


20 Million

More than 20 million people in the United States have a substance use disorder, and most don’t get the treatment they need.

Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

40%

Over 40% of people with a substance use disorder also have a mental health condition, yet fewer than half (48.0%) receive treatment for either disorder.

Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

10%

Only about 10% of people with a substance use disorder receive specialty treatment. 

Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services [3]


DBT Therapy Definition Facts Sheet

The patient populations for which DBT therapy has the most empirical support include parasuicidal women with borderline personality disorder (BPD). The good news is there have been promising findings for patients with BPD and substance use disorders (SUDs), persons who meet the criteria for binge-eating disorder, and depressed elderly patients.

5 Functions of Addiction & Mental Health Treatment

Function #1: Enhancing capabilities. Within DBT therapy, the assumption is that patients with addiction and mental health disorders either lack or need to improve several essential life skills.

Function #2: Generalizing capabilities. If the skills learned in therapy sessions do not transfer to patients’ daily lives, then it would be difficult to say that therapy was successful. As a result, a second critical function of DBT involves generalizing treatment gains to the patient’s natural environment. This function is accomplished in skills training by providing homework assignments to practice skills and troubleshooting regarding improving skills practice.

Function #3: Improving motivation and reducing dysfunctional behaviors. The third function of DBT involves improving patients’ motivation to change and reducing behaviors inconsistent with a life worth living. This function is primarily accomplished in individual therapy.

Function #4: Enhancing and maintaining therapist capabilities and motivation. One essential ingredient of an effective mental health and addiction treatment is providing support, validation, continued training and skill-building, feedback, and encouragement to therapists.

Function #5: Structuring the environment. In DBT, several interventions and skills are geared toward conveying acceptance of the patient and helping the patient accept him or herself, others, and the world. One such intervention is mindfulness. In DBT, mindfulness skills help patients attend to what is happening in the present.

A substance use-focused DBT therapy approach encourages individuals to commit to abstinence and work to maintain their motivation to change through various activities and techniques.
A substance use-focused DBT therapy approach encourages individuals to commit to abstinence and work to maintain their motivation to change through various activities and techniques.

Although DBT has many similarities with other cognitive-behavioral approaches, several critical and unique elements must be in place for the treatment to constitute DBT. Some of these elements include the following:

  • Serving the five functions of treatment
  • The biosocial theory and focusing on emotions in treatment
  • A consistent dialectical philosophy, and
  • Mindfulness and acceptance-oriented interventions

Source: Dialectical Behavior Therapy – National Center for Biotechnology Information [4]

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What Does DBT Therapy Treat?

Managing difficult emotions and regulating the conditions that cause them are essential to DBT. This form of therapy can help people with mental health issues, emotional and behavioral illnesses, behavioral conditions, and anxiety disorders. Some of these conditions include:

DBT therapy can also be used for learning disabilities such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), short-term and long-term memory issues, executive functioning problems, non-verbal learning disorder (NLD), language processing disorder, and dyslexia. 

DBT therapy for addiction targets substance-dependent individuals with behaviors that interfere with their quality of life. DBT’s substance-abuse–specific behavioral targets include:

  • Decreasing abuse of substances, including illicit drugs and legally prescribed drugs taken in a manner not prescribed
  • Alleviating physical discomfort associated with abstinence and withdrawal
  • Diminishing urges, cravings, and temptations to abuse
  • Avoiding opportunities and cues to abuse, for example, by burning bridges to persons, places, and things associated with drug abuse and by destroying the telephone numbers of drug contacts, getting a new telephone number, and throwing away drug paraphernalia
  • Reducing behaviors conducive to drug abuse, such as momentarily giving up the goal to get off drugs and instead functioning as if the use of drugs cannot be avoided
  • Increasing community reinforcement of healthy behaviors, such as fostering the development of new friends, rekindling old friendships, pursuing social/vocational activities, and seeking environments that support abstinence and punish behaviors related to drug abuse.

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How Does DBT Work?

The word dialectic refers to the synthesis of two opposites. The fundamental principle of DBT therapy is to create a dynamic that promotes two opposed goals for patients: change and acceptance. This conceptual framing evolved in response to a dilemma while trying to develop an effective treatment for suicidal patients.

Dr. Linehan is the creator of “dialectical behaviour therapy DBT.” Dr. Linehan’s basic premise for DBT was that people who wanted to die did not have the requisite skills to solve the problems causing their profound suffering and build a life worth living. However, a sole emphasis on promoting behavioral change quickly proved unworkable. 

Many patients were exquisitely sensitive to criticism; when prompted to change, they responded by shutting down emotionally or exhibiting increased, sometimes overwhelming emotional arousal. For instance, storming out of sessions or, occasionally, even attacking the therapist. At the same time, dropping the emphasis on change and encouraging patients to accept and tolerate situations and feelings that distressed them produced equally negative consequences. Patients then viewed their therapist as ignoring or minimizing their suffering and responded with extreme rage or fell into a sea of hopelessness.

In short, patients experienced both promptings for acceptance and promptings for change as invalidating their needs and their experience as a whole, with predictable consequences of emotional and cognitive dysregulation and failure to process new information. 

To overcome this dilemma—to keep the suicidal patient in the room and working productively—DBT therapy incorporates a “dialectical” that unites change and acceptance. The treatment balances the patient’s desire to eliminate all painful experiences (including life itself ) with a corresponding effort to accept life’s inevitable pain. Without this synthesis, the patient’s problems tend to converge and overwhelm both patient and therapist; with it, the patient can work on changing one set of issues while tolerating (at least temporarily) the pain evoked by other problems.

DBT therapy takes a biosocial approach to help us understand how people’s symptoms arise and continue.
DBT therapy takes a biosocial approach to help us understand how people’s symptoms arise and continue.

Treating severe disorders requires synthesizing many dialectical polarities, but acceptance and change are the most fundamental. The simultaneous embrace of acceptance and change in DBT therapy is consistent with the philosophical approach found in Twelve-Step programs, expressed in the Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

The spirit of a dialectical point of view is never to accept a proposition as a final truth or indisputable fact. In therapeutic dialogue, dialectic refers to bringing about change by persuasion and strategically using oppositions that emerge within therapy and the therapeutic relationship. In searching for the validity or truth within each contradictory position, new meanings emerge, thus moving the patient and therapist closer to the subject’s essence under consideration. The patient and therapist regularly ask, “What haven’t we considered?” or “What is the synthesis between these two positions?”

DBT Meaning Therapy & DBT Techniques

DBT therapy has evolved into an evidence-based psychotherapy approach to treat many conditions. Settings in which DBT therapy is often used include the following:

  • Group Therapy Where patients are taught behavioral skills in a group setting.
  • Individual Therapy – With a trained professional, a patient’s learned behavioral skills are adapted to their life challenges.
  • Phone Coaching – In which patients can call the therapist between sessions to receive guidance on coping with a difficult situation they are currently in.

Not everyone will utilize each modality. Instead, your therapist will choose the method with the highest success rate for treating your disorder.

Some of the strategies and techniques used in DBT therapy include the following:

  • Interpersonal Effectiveness – A technique that helps people communicate with others assertively and maintain self-respect. This will also build stronger relationships with others.
  • Emotional Regulation – A strategy that helps individual control and changes their intense emotions, which creates fewer problems in their lives.
  • Distress Tolerance – A way to increase the acceptance and tolerance of negative emotions instead of trying to escape or ignore them.
  • Mindfulness – A standard treatment focused on being present in the moment and being able to accept emotions without judgment.

What Are The Six Main Points Of Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

Are you wondering what are the six main points of dialectical behavior therapy? The six main points of DBT are to acquire skills related to:

  1. Accepting circumstances and making changes.
  2. Examining behaviors and discovering more beneficial ways of reacting.
  3. Modifying unhelpful, harmful thoughts and beliefs.
  4. Developing collaboration skills.
  5. Learning new skills, and
  6. Receiving support.

Online DBT Therapy Worksheets

During your DBT therapy training, you’ll be provided tools such as DBT therapy workbooks, DBT therapy books, and DBT therapy online resources. These exercises include “Radical Acceptance.” RADICAL ACCEPTANCE is the skill of accepting the things you cannot change. Radical acceptance is when you stop fighting reality, stop reacting with impulsive or destructive behaviors when things aren’t going as you want them to, and let go of the bitterness that may be keeping you entangled in a cycle of despair.

Radical means all the way, complete and total. Consider one thing in your life that you need to accept radically: a situation or challenge. Record or journal them into your DBT ACCEPTS pdf. Download the Accepts Skill DBT therapy worksheets free (DBT therapy worksheets pdf) below:

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6 Main Points of DBT Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical behavioral therapy has roughly six main points that need to work in conjunction with each other. Patients are instructed not to think too far into the future, which can be a trigger for an individual and lead them to experience the following episodes:

  • Depressive state
  • Destructive behaviors such as substance abuse
  • Encourage eating disorders
  • Suicidal behaviors

Individuals will be taught positive, healthy ways to deal with stress and general emotions from daily situations, improve their overall relationships with loved ones and regulate their emotions. The result of dialectical behavioral therapy is to identify, change and help an individual cope with negative and unhealthy behavior patterns and emotions, mainly during social situations.

DBT therapy was established on a six-point structure. Trained therapists use these points to help patients develop new thinking & behavioral skills.

  1. Acceptance & change – accept circumstances to make positive changes.
  2. Behavioral – analyze problems and replace them with healthy patterns.
  3. Cognitive – focus on changing thoughts or actions that aren’t helpful.
  4. Skill sets – learn new skills and hobbies, such as doing artwork.
  5. Collaboration – work collaboratively & as a team with others
  6. Support – recognize your strengths and positive features to help others
DBT art therapy helps patients express their emotions, improve self-esteem, manage addictions, relieve stress, improve symptoms of anxiety and depression and cope with recovery.
DBT art therapy helps patients express their emotions, improve self-esteem, manage addictions, relieve stress, improve symptoms of anxiety and depression and cope with recovery.

Addiction Treatment DBT Therapy vs CBT, Differences, Benefits, & Purpose

Talk therapy can come in many forms. During addiction treatment, you may encounter Cognitive Behavioral Therapy CBT or Dialectical Behavioral Therapy DBT. Both CBT and DBT can be part of holistic addiction treatment programs. Finding a DBT or CBT program can provide insight into your addiction and support for your recovery.

CBT for addiction seeks to give patients the ability to recognize when their thoughts might become troublesome and gives them techniques to redirect those thoughts. DBT helps patients find ways to accept themselves, feel safe, and manage their emotions to help regulate potentially destructive or harmful behaviors.

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) for addiction may help prevent intense emotions from throwing you off course. DBT focuses on the social and emotional challenges in one’s life. DBT for addiction offers advice to improve self-regulation skills that may be helpful for those who do not respond to other approaches.

The therapist communicates the expectation of abstinence in the first CBT DBT therapy session by asking the patient to commit and to stop using drugs.
The therapist communicates the expectation of abstinence in the first CBT DBT therapy session by asking the patient to commit and to stop using drugs.

So what does DBT recommend to adults with substance use disorders who want to improve their lives? DBT is heavily based on cognitive behavioral therapy with one exception: It emphasizes validation or accepting uncomfortable emotions before trying to change them. The change appears possible by coming to terms with troubling thoughts and feelings, and patients can work with their therapists to create a recovery plan. The therapist’s role in DBT for addiction is to find the balance between acceptance and change.

Self-control is a theme running through group sessions. This involves recognizing behavioral and thinking patterns and learning strategies for dealing with stress and impulsivity. Although designed as a DBT group therapy for addiction, DBT can also be done in individual therapy. A benefit of group DBT therapy is the chance for members to share experiences and realize, “I’m not the only one dealing with this.” There is mutual support while discussing solutions and practicing new skills in the group. For some, DBT may be the right choice for adults with addiction.

CBT therapy vs DBT for Substance Abuse

When it comes to drug abuse and mental health, there’s rarely a single solution that works for everyone every time. More commonly, several options are available, some of which are more suited to specific conditions and certain individuals than others. This is certainly true when it comes to substance use disorders.

There are many different ways to treat drug addiction, from medication to training programs and psychotherapy. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) are two of the most accepted forms of therapy used to help individuals successfully manage addiction symptoms.

CBT vs DBT Therapy Effectiveness

As research on the effectiveness of DBT vs CBT therapy as treatments for addiction is limited, it’s hard to say which is best. Studies suggest that CBT could be a better treatment. But this could also be because more studies have been conducted into its effectiveness than DBT.

Addiction symptoms can vary widely in intensity and diversity. To determine which therapy is best for you, your therapist needs to analyze your symptoms and their severity. The type of problems you face daily will conclude the most effective form of addiction treatment. 

What Happens During DBT for Substance Abuse?

During an individual session of DBT therapy for addiction to alcohol, drugs, or both, the therapist will focus first on crisis management, and suicidal and self-harming behaviors will take priority. Next, behaviors that may keep a person from attending therapy or participating fully in sessions are addressed. 

Issues involving quality of life are examined, focusing on improving a person’s overall well-being. Emotional trauma is explored, and healthy coping mechanisms are built to counteract maladaptive behaviors that may be in place currently. Basic social skills, such as communication, are enhanced during individual sessions of DBT therapy for substance use. [5]

A person’s self-image is assessed and improved through a therapeutic relationship between the therapist and the individual. Clients are encouraged to understand that their thoughts and feelings are valid, to accept themselves as worthwhile, and to find the motivation to modify negative thoughts and behaviors. Emotional pain is part of life; individuals are taught through DBT therapy to accept this and learn how to work through it. Therapists are nonjudgmental and not confrontational in their approach.

In the quest for abstinence, DBT dialectical behavior therapy takes the form of pushing for immediate and permanent cessation of drug abuse (i.e., change) while also teaching the fact that a relapse, should it occur, does not mean that the patient or the therapy cannot achieve the desired result (i.e., acceptance). Therefore, the dialectical approach joins unrelenting insistence on total abstinence with nonjudgmental, problem-solving responses to relapse, including techniques to reduce the dangers of overdose, infection, and other adverse consequences. [6]

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DBT for Co-Occurring Mental Health & Substance Use Disorders

Often, the afflicted person tends to have a co-occurring or co-morbid disorder with any mental health disorder. When individuals are afflicted with co-occurring disorders, they often present a much more complex set of barriers to overcome than when they present with only one primary disorder.

Substance abuse can be considered impulsive behavior that includes self-harm. Therefore, a substance abuse disorder is regularly checked when evaluating diagnostic criteria for borderline personality disorder (BPD), and clinicians routinely identify high rates of co-morbidity. DBT therapy for BPD is one of the main treatments for borderline personality disorder.

When borderline personality disorder co-occurs with addiction, both effects are magnified. Impulsive and destructive behaviors, mood swings, depression, lack of concern for safety and health, and instability are some of the symptoms that can worsen when these disorders are simultaneous.

Furthermore, Suppose you or someone you care about chronically use drugs or alcohol. In that case, it can lead to changes in the brain, which can lead to mental health issues, including paranoia, depression, anxiety, aggression, hallucinations, and other problems.

Therapists developed DBT therapy for dual diagnosis as a response to treatment-resistant conditions like borderline personality disorder and chronic suicidal ideation.
Therapists developed DBT therapy for dual diagnosis as a response to treatment-resistant conditions like borderline personality disorder and chronic suicidal ideation.

CBT and DBT Therapy for Dual Diagnosis

Dual diagnosis refers to one or more diagnosed mental health problems, co-occurring with problematic drug and alcohol use. A dual-diagnosis condition can include: a mental health problem or disorder leading to or associated with problematic alcohol and other drug use.

Borderline personality disorder ( BPD ), also known as an emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD), is characterized by a long-term pattern of unstable interpersonal relationships, a distorted sense of self, and strong emotional reactions. Research steadily has affirmed that borderline personality disorder and substance use disorder (SUD) rates are frequently between 67% and 76% of the BPD populations. Criteria are met when BPD patients abuse at least one substance to the degree they meet the criteria for the diagnosis of a SUD.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), [7] DBT therapy and its adaptation may also be effective for SUD patients with multiple, complex problems rooted in emotional dyscontrol who have not responded to other evidence-based approaches.

Pros and Cons of DBT Therapy

There is a wide range of treatments for substance use disorders. If you decide you want to look into treatment centers right away, an addiction specialist might be able to recommend a program matched to your needs. You could also ask for recommendations from people you know who are in recovery. Below are the pros and cons of DBT therapy that may help you decide what treatment plan you should go for.

Pros of DBT Therapy Steps

  • DBT is evidence-based. It goes beyond addiction and mental health illness and improves individuals’ quality of life.
  • It reduces anxiety, depression, trauma, and stress symptoms and decreases suicidal and self-harming thoughts and behaviors.
  • DBT therapy techniques increase patients’ self-worth and self-respect.
  • Patients can access their DBT clinician the moment when they are struggling. It can be through online DBT therapy for BPD free helpline or at DBT therapy centers.
  • The group component of DBT family therapy or DBT couples therapy allows patients to learn and practice skills in a safe and supportive environment. 
  • Researchers have found that the effectiveness of DBT therapy for anxiety, substance abuse, and other mental illness is far-reaching and generalized to clients of various ages, gender identities, sexual orientations, and races/ethnicities.
  • “Dialectical behavioural therapy DBT” incorporates Zen Buddhist mindfulness practices, which may appeal to patients who want to work toward spiritual fulfillment.  
  • DBT therapy for addiction teaches patients that thinking is dialectical, not “right” or “wrong,” evaluating and integrating contradictory ideas. 

Criticisms or “Cons” on DBT Therapy Skills

  • DBT therapy requires a significant time commitment (from the patient and the clinician). 
  • There are many skills in DBT, which may be overwhelming. As a result, consumers who may benefit from it may find it overly complex and unwilling to try it.
  • DBT therapy involves homework that may not be well suited for everyone.
  • DBT is structured and has strict boundaries that must be set and followed.
  • There is no formal trauma processing in DBT, which may be a necessary component of treatment for some clients to recover from a traumatic experience(s) entirely. 
  • Certain facets of DBT are derived from Eastern religious philosophies; therefore, some clients whose religious values are Western (e.g., Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) may object to Zen Buddhist teachings. 
  • DBT clinicians must be highly trained addiction and mental health professionals, as there is the possibility for increased risky behavior throughout treatment.

How To Find DBT Therapy Groups Near Me?

If you already have a therapist, they may be able to refer you to a group that might be a fit. Suppose you don’t have a therapist, or they don’t have suggestions. You can search for group psychotherapists through the best online DBT therapy online resources or by contacting us at We Level Up NJ addiction treatment centers. We can help with the resources across the US, for support groups and treatment options too.

Effective and affordable therapies are needed for treating people with severe and persistent addiction and mental illness in a community health setting.  Group therapy may be one cost-effective solution to this dilemma because a group setting allows a clinician to treat multiple people during the time usually spent treating one person. For a treatment center setting, group therapy must have demonstrated effectiveness across various diagnoses, including diagnoses that are difficult to treat, so that most clients can be served. Also, the therapy should be manual-based or require little training since limited training resources and high clinician turnover are common at community treatment centers. The skills training component of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) meets both these needs.

Searching how “DBT therapy group near me” works? DBT skills training is a weekly group, run like a class, which teaches skills across four main topics: mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance skills. Clients must complete homework assignments to practice the skills taught during the weekly lesson.

How Can I Find A DBT Therapy Near Me?

When looking for “DBT group therapy near me” or a DBT clinician, It is best to find someone who specializes in this field. Dialectical behavioral therapy is offered in a variety of healthcare settings that offer addiction treatment and treatment for mental health disorders. Make sure the facility can meet your specific needs and that they have experience treating people whose age and life circumstances are similar to yours.

Looking for the "best DBT therapy near me?" We Level Up NJ treatment center can help! DBT is an evidence-based treatment for many mental health conditions. In DBT therapy, you learn to manage intense emotions, cope with distress, and cultivate healthy relationships.
Looking for the “best DBT therapy near me?” We Level Up NJ treatment center can help! DBT is an evidence-based treatment for many mental health conditions. In DBT therapy, you learn to manage intense emotions, cope with distress, and cultivate healthy relationships.

The best way to determine if DBT therapy is right for you is to talk with a trained professional. They will evaluate your symptoms, treatment history, and therapy goals to see if DBT therapy might be a good fit.

If you or a loved one are struggling with long-term substance abuse and co-occurring mental health condition, contact one of our helpful treatment specialists today. We Level Up NJ addiction treatment center can provide information on dual diagnosis programs and detox programs that may fit your specific needs.

Center for Cognitive and Dialectical Behavior Therapy DBT for Alcohol & Drug Addiction Treatment

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Top 10 What Is DBT Therapy Used For? Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What does DBT stand for in therapy?

    Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a comprehensive cognitive behavioral treatment. It’s based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), but it’s specially adapted for people who intensely feel emotions.

  2. What’s DBT therapy for alcohol and substance use disorders?

    DBT therapy may be combined with medication, counseling, and support group meetings and used as part of a comprehensive addiction treatment program. Sometimes, a person may need to attend a detox program before entering an alcohol addiction treatment program to reach a stable physical level first.

  3. What is DBT in therapy, and how effective is it?

    Studies indicate that DBT can be valuable in a comprehensive treatment plan for individuals with substance use disorder and co-occurring mental health disorders, such as depression or borderline personality disorder (BPD).

  4. DBT therapy what is it used for?

    Dialectical behavior therapy can help you become more skilled at managing your emotions. Improve interpersonal skills and your ability to influence your environment. Discover safe and healthy ways to welcome emotions into your life.

  5. How long is DBT therapy?

    Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) usually takes at least six months to a year. However, each person is unique, and mental health conditions are complex. You shouldn’t expect to be completely free of symptoms or no longer have problematic behaviors after one year of DBT.

  6. DBT therapy what is the efficacy?

    Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is especially effective for people with difficulty managing and regulating emotions.

  7. What is “DBT informed therapy?”

    Dialectical Behavior Informed Therapy, or DBT, includes structured therapy techniques developed by psychologist Marsha Linehan to combat emotional difficulties that are not limited to severe anxiety, self-harm, and the emotional volatility typical in many personality disorders.

  8. Whats DBT therapy cost?

    While the details of mental health coverage will vary and the out-of-pocket responsibility will depend on the specific type of health insurance coverage, all health insurance companies are required to provide partial or complete coverage for mental health treatment, including DBT carried out by a registered, certified treatment center.

  9. What is DBT therapy meaning, and how does it work?

    At its core, DBT is about the idea of balancing opposites. During sessions, the therapist must work with the patient to find a way to balance two opposite perspectives simultaneously, which helps promote emotional regulation, and encourages the patient to avoid problematic black-and-white thinking.

  10. What are DBT therapy examples?

    The four psychological and emotional functions that DBT focuses on during sessions include mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance and emotion regulation. DBT often uses telephone crisis coaching to support you in your day-to-day life. This means that you can call your therapist for support between sessions. For example: when you need help to deal with an immediate crisis (such as feeling suicidal or wanting to self-harm)

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Sources

[1,4] Chapman AL. Dialectical behavior therapy: current indications and unique elements. Psychiatry (Edgmont). 2006 Sep;3(9):62-8. PMID: 20975829; PMCID: PMC2963469.

[2-3] Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health – U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

[5] Cognitive Behavioral Coping Skills Therapy Manual – National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

[6] Dimeff LA, Linehan MM. Dialectical behavior therapy for substance abusers. Addict Sci Clin Pract. 2008 Jun;4(2):39-47. DOI: 10.1151/ascp084239. PMID: 18497717; PMCID: PMC2797106.

[7] Flynn D, Joyce M, Spillane A, Wrigley C, Corcoran P, Hayes A, Flynn M, Wyse D, Corkery B, Mooney B. Does an adapted Dialectical Behaviour Therapy skills training program result in positive outcomes for participants with a dual diagnosis? Mixed methods study. Addict Sci Clin Pract. 2019 Aug 15;14(1):28. DOI: 10.1186/s13722-019-0156-2. PMID: 31412957; PMCID: PMC6694661.

[8] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); Office of the Surgeon General (US). Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health [Internet]. Washington (DC): US Department of Health and Human Services; 2016 Nov. CHAPTER 4, EARLY INTERVENTION, TREATMENT, AND MANAGEMENT OF SUBSTANCE USE DISORDERS. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK424859/

[9] Drug Addiction Treatment – SAMHSA/ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

[10] Laws and Regulations – SAMHSA/ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration