Reviewing DBT

Reviewing DBT

DBT is a unique treatment approach that focuses on emotional response and specific skillsets

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (or DBT) is a form of therapy that focuses on changing thought patterns and emotional responses. Essentially, when you change an individual’s line of thinking you can change the behavior to a situation. Instead of thinking negatively, with proper training, an individual can start to think in a positive, healthy way. DBT is a specific variation of the popular cognitive behavioral therapy that was developed by psychologist Marsha Linehan. Originally, Linehan created DBT to help better treat borderline personality disorder.

Since the development of DBT, it has been used for other mental health disorders such as: recurrent suicidal behavior, substance abuse, depression, anger, excessive spending, sex addiction, eating addiction and other forms of addiction. DBT has also been shown to help with improving social and global functioning. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, DBT can decrease the frequency and severity of self-destructive behaviors, motivate individuals to change by reinforcing good behavior, emphasize the strengths of individuals and even help therapists treat their clients effectively. The American Institute for Cognitive Therapy states that generally, DBT treatment entails both participation in a weekly 1.5-hour skills training group and weekly individual DBT therapy.

Much of the basis of DBT is focused on emotions and feelings. One of the core theories behind DBT is that some individuals have accelerated arousal levels that are raised in specific relationships. For example, when you are with a friend, romantic partner or family member, some individuals have a higher level of emotional stimulation. You may feel very happy, very sad, very irritated or some other emotion. As a result, you may take a longer time to return to standard arousal levels. And if you do not have the proper coping skill to deal with the surge of emotions you feel, you may turn to substance abuse or some other form of addictive behavior. This is an area where dialectical behavior therapy is often very effective.

DBT teaches individuals how to identify and recognize their emotions and then build the proper responses through problem solving. It even helps you become more self-aware so you can recognize thought processes, beliefs and expectations that are unhealthy as well. Specific skillsets are used and homework is often a part of this process. So if you have issues with drug abuse, here is how DBT could help.

  1. DBT Helps You Develop Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a nonjudgmental awareness that is developed by paying attention. Extreme thinking is a common trait among drug addicts. The highs are very high and the lows are very low. With DBT an addict is able to achieve a balanced state by focusing on mindfulness. Meditation is often a tool that is used and also involves being self-aware.

  1. DBT Helps You Increase Tolerance

Drug addicts are used to numbing their pain or feelings. When using DBT, an individual is taught to use their five senses to process the pain or emotions instead of attempting to change or avoid them. Some common ways this is applied is through distraction, and a method called IMPROVE the environment. According to a DBT help source, IMPROVE guides DBT patients in the following way:


Imagery – Use positive imagery to motivate yourself. For example, a goal or happy thought.

Meaning – Find some form of meaning in the situation.

Prayer – This could also be meditation, using spirituality or faith as way of helping you.

Relaxation – Find a way to relax and sooth yourself.

One – Take on tasks one thing at a time. This helps you avoid being overwhelmed.

Vacation – Take some time away. Even if just in your mind or to step away for a moment.

Encouragement – Give yourself encouragement and positive self-talk in your mind.

  1. DBT Helps You Improve Interpersonal Effectiveness.

Being effective interpersonally means clearly communicating what is needed to someone else. When an addict is using he or she often does not communicate clearly. This skill set is intended to help ensure the goals of the individual are being met without damaging relationships or self-respect.

  1. DBT Helps You Regulate Emotions

Emotion Regulation is learning the function of emotions and improving your own ability to describe, change, and cope effectively with your emotions, instead of allowing emotions to control you. This is really one of the goals of DBT. When you are able to regulate your emotions, you can make better decisions. This is not an overnight process and requires a trained professional such as a therapist.

Find the Help You Need to Overcome Addiction

If you have any questions about DBT or any other kind of therapy, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline. If you are struggling with an addiction to a prescription drug like Adderall, we know how you feel and are ready to talk with you anytime, 24 hours a day. There is no commitment. You will not be judged for your actions. Get the support and information you need so you can get clean and live a healthy life.