Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a cognitive behavioral treatment developed by Marsha Linehan to treat individuals struggling with persistent emotional, behavioral and thought difficulties and dysregulation. DBT integrates dialectics, behaviorism and mindfulness to reduce dysfunctional behaviors and increase skillful coping. It has been found to be an evidence-based practice benefiting individuals struggling with addiction.
The dialectic of Acceptance and Change acts as a foundation for individuals struggling with addiction; understanding and accepting oneself and situation fully, while at the same time recognizing the need for change and transformation. Finding a balance, walking the middle path, is one that can be difficult when one’s mind has learned to operate and act in extremes. DBT teaches individuals to acknowledge both their emotional and psychological needs (Emotion Mind) AND their logical, intellectual thought process (Rational Mind), fusing each perspective together to live mindfully and act intuitively utilizing one’s Wise Mind.
DBT utilizes validation to motivate individuals, building assurance and strength in their ability to develop and thrive. It operates on the assumptions that individuals are doing the best they can and individuals want to improve.
DBT provides skill-based training modules focused on four areas:
- Distress Tolerance
- Emotion Regulation
- Interpersonal Effectiveness
Each module is broken down below:
Mindfulness: Core Mindfulness skills are used as a way for individuals to learn how to gain awareness of, and learn to accept, their emotions. These skills help individuals focus on the present and tackle what is happening in the here and now, slowing individuals down to utilize Wise Mind and act in less destructive, more skillful manners.