Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy: The Integration of Opposition

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that focuses on finding harmony between two seemingly opposing forces. DBT was initially developed to help individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder; however, DBT has been adapted to treat other mental health disorders, like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The core of DBT is learning to accept change, live in the moment, regulate emotions, improve relationships with others, and cope with stress.

DBT can be especially helpful for those who are struggling with “black-and-white” thinking or having trouble seeing neutral or “gray” areas in life. When people have extreme perspectives, they might have mood swings or trouble in interpersonal relationships. The clinical team at Create Recovery Center is trained to treat individuals exactly where they are in their recovery. DBT is one of many techniques that our staff can use to help you reach your recovery goals and take charge of your life! DBT focuses on helping you learn specific skills that can cause you to come to terms with seemingly opposing perspectives, better maintain relationships, and regulate your emotions.

What Are Some of the Disorders That DBT Can Treat?

DBT is especially helpful for those experiencing extreme mood swings and regulating emotions, which can create difficulty in other areas of life. They might have distorted self-images due to underlying mental health disorders and attribute an adverse event as an extension of themselves. If you are struggling with feelings like these, remember that you are not your disorder! There is hope for you, and Create Recovery is here to teach DBT practices to those struggling with dual-diagnosis of addiction, impulsive control, and the following disorders:

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Major Depression
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Bipolar Disorder
Eating Disorders, like binge-eating and bulimia
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Learn Coping Skills with DBT

The skills learned in DBT sessions can be categorized as follows:

  • Core Mindfulness: These skills help the person learn to be “in the moment” and accept the present for what it is. Due to the distorted perceptions of those with BPD and other disorders, learning to be present and accepting of life is critical to treating their symptoms. Core mindfulness skills are at the center of all the additional skill-building for those using DBT.
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness: Due to the presence of traumatic events in their lives, those with BPD and PTSD may develop insecure attachment styles that impact their adult relationships. They may have been neglected or abused in childhood and struggle to understand how to get meet their needs in relationships. They might fear abandonment and may paradoxically end relationships to protect themselves from their fear that people will eventually leave or let them down. This skill area focuses on things like:
    • Learning how to ask for what is needed
    • Saying “no” to demands that are inappropriate or make a person feel uncomfortable
    • Coping with conflict during interpersonal relationships
  • Emotional Regulation: Learning to regulate emotions is crucial to treating many mental health disorders. Those with BPD and PTSD may have intense emotional reactions that can be extreme within the context of the situation. Emotional regulation skills focus on a process of:
    • Identifying and labeling emotions
    • Identifying obstacles to changing their emotions, like maladaptive behaviors, addictions, and suicidal ideation
    • Learning to avoid negative situations that make the person feel vulnerable
    • Learning to increase events and circumstances in life that lead to positive emotions
    • Use mindfulness techniques to deal with painful emotions in a nonjudgmental and less reactive manner
  • Distress Tolerance: DBT helps individuals learn how to tolerate painful, distressing, and frustrating emotions. When people cannot handle any discomfort in their lives, they might “fly off the handle” at any event that does not go their way or go as expected. Spilling a glass of water, missing a bus, or experiencing everyday misfortunes can lead to extreme overreactions or validated distorted self-images. By learning how to tolerate discomfort and “sit with” painful or negative emotions—like boredom, disappointment, and loneliness—the person can learn to accept things from a detached perspective.

Learning to Accept Change, Discomfort, and Unexpected Events

Life has many ups and downs. When a person struggles to accept change, feelings of discomfort, or unexpected events, they might benefit from DBT as they learn how to manage their emotional responses. When our perspectives are altered due to mental health disorders, we might view the world as an unfair and unsafe place. We might struggle to trust others and find ourselves lashing out at loved ones for minor issues. When we struggle to control our emotions, others may not understand the pain we are going through. DBT can help you learn to control your emotions and build a healthy perspective in life.

At Create Recovery Center, we believe that recovery from mental illness and co-occurring disorders is best in a safe and supportive environment. Through our many programs, we can teach you the skills you need to live the life of your dreams as you manage your addiction and its underlying causes. We offer a range of treatments, from outpatient services to long-term residential care. Dual-diagnosis treatment for addiction and mental health disorders, like Borderline Personality Disorder and PTSD, can include therapies like Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. If you struggle to regulate your emotions, view yourself positively, or see life on balanced terms, DBT might be the right therapy for you!