Addictiondialectical Behavioral Training

Addiction steals the mind, body, and soul from individuals and inhibits them from reaching their full potential. For individuals suffering from addiction, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is used to give recovering addicts the tools needed to remove their negative cycles of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Immersing individuals in a Dialectical Behavioral Therapy program helps to ensure they will be given the coping skills needed in maintaining lifetime sobriety.

DBT is intended to break the cycle of helplessness, distress, and the mental cravings for the drug. By freeing individuals from negative thoughts and establishing mindfulness and emotional regulation, individuals will be better equipped to manage their difficult life moments in a meaningful and productive way.

How Did DBT Begin?

Behavioral

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Addiction Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is one of the treatment approaches rooted from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This therapeutic technique was developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan in the late 1980s when she was working with patients who were having serious suicidal thoughts and she found CBT to be. Individuals that benefit most from DBT tend to be dual or multi-diagnosed, and can be struggling with any number of behavioral health issues. DBT has een proven in clinical studies to be very effective in treating individuals with substance abuse, eating disorders, borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia, or domestic violence trauma.

DBT was developed in the 1970s by Dr. Marsha Linehan, Professor of Psychology at the University of Washington. Linehan recognized the need for effective methods to help suffering patients transform suicidal thoughts and emotional dysregulation to live a meaningful life again. Originally, DBT was found to be effective for people diagnosed with the most common dual diagnosis: Substance Use Disorders (SUD) and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

DBT is intended to help patients eliminate suicidal thoughts and establish self-acceptance through targeting the causes of substance abuse and promoting abstinence. The goal is to eliminate the mental and physical pain caused from withdrawal and establish opportunities for change and progress. Throughout the process of DBT, unwanted thoughts and behaviors are replaced by a positive mental framework that empowers individuals to make healthier decisions in their everyday lives.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy can treat substance dependency and addiction. As with all treatment options, its effectiveness depends on your unique situation and personal recovery needs. DBT is evidence-based and supported by studies and statistics. Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a branch of psychotherapy that is rooted in the principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) with several modifications and additions. Dialectical behavioral therapists will assess the emotional blocks that are hindering recovery efforts. Their training and experience with patients allow this to happen effectively, though it may take some time at first. By assimilating these driving concerns into a positive outlet, rehabilitation can resume simultaneously.

Key Components of DBT

DBT is an effective psychotherapy technique used at Covenant Hills Treatment Center that empowers individuals with serious addiction to take ownership of their recovery process. By addressing the “whole person”, mind, body, and soul, suffering individuals will be immersed in each component of the DBT process by a supportive team of experts.

Individual Therapy Sessions. Individual sessions are specifically designed by a team of therapists, counselors and pastors to meet the needs of the specific client’s addiction. You learn the strategies needed to maintain sobriety and are connected to the larger support group of the entire staff. You examine your entire journey and are taught strategies to regulate distressful emotions.

You work with a therapist and spiritual counselor to devise an individualized treatment plan to meet your personal and professional goals. Through continued therapy sessions, you gain strength and confidence in your ability to better control your thoughts and actions. You are connected to positive social networking groups for opportunities to jobs, activities, and the spiritual community.

Group Therapy Sessions. Interpersonal relationships are fostered and supported in group therapy sessions. This provides you with an opportunity to connect with people who are going through similar experiences. This humanizing experience fosters empathy and connectedness with individuals and promotes a positive outlet of support.

Phone Coaching. When you are struggling in-between therapy sessions or do not know where to go during a difficult moment, patients can call their therapist, counselor, or pastor. This component ensures you feel safe and empowered at all times and creates an avenue to use self-management and self-soothing techniques needed in avoiding a relapse.

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Therapy Consultations. Skills training is continuously enhanced in every therapy consultation. This component helps you assess your progress during your recovery journey and motivates individuals to continue achieving their goals.

‘Whole person’ skills learned from DBT

During DBT, you learn to deconstruct your true identity apart from your addiction. You rebuild an identity that fosters self-compassion and resilience. In addition to rebuilding your self-concept, DBT teaches you the following skills that help in avoiding a relapse:

Mindfulness: The skills learned from DBT help you understand the present moment and respond in a productive way using a coping technique. Instead of impulsively turning to the illicit substance to cope with difficult moments, you learn to seek social support or engage in a productive activity.

Distress Tolerance: DBT teaches you to reduce anxiety and stress associated with social and environmental stressors. By using self-soothing techniques and coping mechanisms that use stress as a motivator to seek personal change, you will cultivate self-compassion.

Interpersonal Effectiveness: The strategies learned from DBT aid you in balancing your needs while maintaining self-respect and healthy relationships with supportive friends and family.

Emotional Regulation: Addiction recovery is a very emotional process in which DBT seeks to promote a healthy mindset. This leads to the ability to control emotions. When you face adversity, you work closely with your therapists to respond to an emotional moment by engaging in positive self talk and productive behaviors.

Behavioral skills learned from DBT in addiction recovery

Dr. Linehan and Dr. Dimeff identify key elements that are targeted through DBT for substance abusers. The following are key behavioral targets for substance abusers that are used at Covenant Hills:

  • Detoxifying patients from drugs used and reducing the urge to buy/use illicit drugs
  • Establishing coping mechanisms to alleviate withdrawal symptoms
  • Creating self-management skills and strategies learned in DBT to reduce the emotional and physical need for the drug to cope
  • Avoiding social groups and environments that create the need for the illicit drug
  • Breaking off all contact from people who previously were associated with the drug and establishing a new phone number and social group
  • Connecting with the community of God, establishing enjoyable hobbies, and finding a meaningful profession will all aid the patient in reconstructing their self-concept

The transformative power of DBT

The effective use of DBT at Covenant Hills is enhanced by having a strong spiritual foundation and a team of professionals that help to guide individuals to seek a larger purpose. DBT not only establishes mindfulness and emotional regulation, but is aided by the transformative spiritual experience at Covenant Hills. The comprehensive Christian-based treatment program seeks to provide individuals with the tools needed to restore their mind, body, and soul from addiction in order to reach their full potential and avoid a relapse.

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Covenant Hills Treatment is a faith-based addiction treatment facility in Orange County, California and San Antonio, Texas. Covenant Hills emphasizes a whole person approach to care and clients work with pastors, therapists, and counselors who are professionally trained in the Christian-based treatment program. Staff help individuals connect to a larger community of God and support the process of finding purpose again in one’s life beyond their addiction. 800-NO-ABUSE (800) 662-2873.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is one of the treatment approaches rooted from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This therapeutic technique was developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan in the late 1980s when she was working with patients who were having serious suicidal thoughts and she found CBT to be limiting. While DBT was originally intended to assist clients with a borderline personality disorder, research revealed that DBT has also been used to successfully treat substance abuse disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, and other mental health issues. This piece will focus on DBT and addiction, so you can learn more and appreciate how this therapeutic tool can help you or your loved one win the battle against substance abuse disorder.

What is the Main Goal of DBT?

The primary goal of DBT is to teach the patient essential skills that will help him cope with stress. Through DBT, the patient is expected to learn effective tools that can help him change his existing negative coping mechanisms into positive ones. In the case of substance abuse disorder or addiction, the reliance on drugs is the negative coping mechanism.

People abuse drugs for a variety of reasons but all of them essentially boil down to the need to cope with something and the need to find relief. When you go through DBT, you will learn healthy ways to cope with what you are going through so that you will no longer have to depend on drugs, among other things.

How can DBT Help Address Addiction?

DBT help people suffering from substance use disorder by focusing on the attainment of the following behavioral targets:

  • Lessening the dependence or abuse of different kinds of substances (e.g. drugs and alcohol)
  • Decreasing the painful and discomforting symptoms of withdrawal.
  • Diminishing the urges and cravings to use/abuse drugs and other substances.
  • Avoiding tempting situations and other occasions that may cause one to take and abuse substances.
  • Improving and increasing the support of one’s environment, apart from family, by helping the patient form new and healthy friendships.
  • Encouraging the patient to be involved in recreational activities and wholesome hobbies that will support long-term sobriety or abstinence.

How can DBT Help Address Addiction?

Programs

DBT help people suffering from substance use disorder by focusing on the attainment of the following behavioral targets:

  • Lessening the dependence or abuse of different kinds of substances (e.g. drugs and alcohol)
  • Decreasing the painful and discomforting symptoms of withdrawal.
  • Diminishing the urges and cravings to use/abuse drugs and other substances.
  • Avoiding tempting situations and other occasions that may cause one to take and abuse substances.
  • Improving and increasing the support of one’s environment, apart from family, by helping the patient form new and healthy friendships.
  • Encouraging the patient to be involved in recreational activities and wholesome hobbies that will support long-term sobriety or abstinence.

What is the DBT Method?

Unlike other therapeutic techniques that only focus on one facet of the problem, the DBT approach is multidimensional and comprehensive. DBT and addiction treatment work by utilizing various treatment mechanisms and strategies to bring positive change and acceptance to the person suffering from substance abuse disorder. Specifically, the DBT approach…

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  • … helps to encourage patients to change parts of their life that they can change.
  • … assists patients in developing their capability to improve and change certain aspects of themselves and to determine which parts of themselves and others that they cannot change.
  • … helps patients to develop more healthy and functional behaviors that they can apply in real life.
  • … provides patients with tools that will help them change for the better and positive coping mechanisms that will help them deal with difficulties and challenges in the real world.
  • … ensures continuous improvement and development by the patient through continued training and consultation with therapists after the required formal DBT sessions are over.

What are the 5 Functions of DBT?

As mentioned above, DBT is a comprehensive program of treatment which is why other clinicians find DBT overwhelming. While techniques may vary, you can tell that a program is truly committed to the DBT approach if it addresses the following five main functions of the treatmentmethod:

Enhancing Capabilities

DBT assumes that the patient either lacks or need to improve essential life skills to address their addiction, which is why improving skills is one of the major functions of DBT.

Generalizing Capabilities

The skills acquired in the sessions should be applied in real life and not just left within the confines of the therapy room. This is the reason why the second critical function of DBT involves providing treatment gains to assist in the patient’s daily life and natural environment.

Improving Patients Motivation and Reducing Behaviors Considered Dysfunctional

The third function of DBT is focused on ensuring that the patient is continuously motivated and exerting effort to diminishing certain dysfunctional behaviors that will not contribute to a life that is worth living.

Enhancing and Maintaining Therapist Capabilities and Motivation

Considering that the role of the therapist is critical in DBT and addiction, another important function of DBT is to maintain the motivations, focus, and skills of the therapists who are treating the patients.

Structuring the Environment

The last important function of DBT involves helping the patient restructure his environment in a way that will reinforce his behavioral progress and deter problematic behavior. For instance, drug dependent patients would learn how to avoid hanging out with friends who promote drug use.

What are the Capabilities or Skills Developed and Improved in DBT?

In connection with the first function of DBT discussed above, here are the skills that patients must learn and develop while undergoing DBT treatment:

  • Mindfulness skills – paying attention to the experience of the present moment and controlling attention. People usually abuse drugs because they are preoccupied with distracting themselves to avoid worries about the past or the future. By learning this skill, one gets to be fully immersed in the here and now.
  • Distress tolerance skills – the ability to tolerate stress and hardships and surviving crises without making the situation worse. Abusing drugs is one of the most destructive ways to cope with stress and difficulties. By learning this skill, one can learn positive ways to manage distress.
  • Interpersonal effectiveness – the ability to effectively go through interpersonal situations. DBT teaches the patient how to effectively deal with other people and to have meaningful interactions with others.
  • Emotional regulation skills – ability to identify unwanted feelings and finding ways to control or change them. When people abuse drugs, they try to deny or run away from what they are feeling. DBT and addiction treatment will teach them how to address these emotions head on.

What Can You Expect During DBT and Addiction Treatment?

To attain the goals and functions of DBT, this treatment method involves the following strategies that complement and support each other:

Individual Therapy Sessions

DBT and addiction treatment require individual therapy sessions or one-on-one contact with a trained and experienced therapist who will ensure that all treatment requirements of the patients are being addressed. The therapist will ensure that patients stay motivated all throughout the treatment, that they will apply the DBT skills they have learned in their daily life, and that they will be able to overcome whatever challenges will arise during treatment.

Group Therapy Sessions

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Dbt Techniques

DBT also make use of group therapy sessions wherein patients practice DBT skills together. During these sessions, the members of the group are encouraged to share their experiences and to offer support to each other. During group therapy sessions, the patients are taught coping skills, relaxation techniques, anger management, and conflict resolution, among many others.

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Phone Coaching

There are times wherein patients need immediate solutions to pressing problems outside the therapy schedule. When this happens, patients can call their therapist who will then provide guidance and coaching. This strategy is used with discretion especially since this service can be abused by patients.

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What are the Advantages of Utilizing DBT as Treatment for Addiction?

DBT is very different from the many addiction treatments available primarily because it looks at the patient’s mental health condition and how it affects his addiction, and vice versa. Specifically, DBT offers the following benefits:

It does not punish the patient for taking drugs since DBT assumes that drug dependents do the best they can under the situation.

  • It allows the therapist to determine the level of abstinence suited for the patient’s condition.
  • It addresses the most serious problems first before moving on to the less serious ones, rather than trying to solve all problems at once.
  • It encourages the patient to transition from an “addict mind” to a “clear mind” which is crucial in achieving long-term sobriety.
  • It uses several techniques that help patients stay and actively participate in treatment.
  • It helps patients learn essential skills needed to help them accept themselves and realize their need to change.

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Is DBT for Everybody?

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Definition

Yes. DBT has been thoroughly assessed and found to be suited and effective for individuals regardless of race, age, gender, and sexual orientation. DBT and addiction treatment is one of the few evidence-based psychological treatments approaches widely-used all over the world.

What are the Factors that You Need to Consider When Looking for a DBT Therapist?

Considering that DBT is unlike other ordinary addiction treatments, it is critical that you find a reputable, experienced, and highly-skilled therapist to assist you. Below are the critical factors that you need to consider when searching for a DBT therapist for your addiction problem:

  • Educational Background: Make sure that the therapist you are considering has completed a master’s or doctoral degree in counseling or clinical psychology from an accredited college or university.
  • Training: A good DBT therapist had clocked in hundreds of hours working with individuals and groups with substance abuse disorders and those with other psychological health issues.
  • License: Check whether the therapist you are considering had passed the required state exam in the area where he or she is practicing.
  • DBT Experience: Confirm the number of years the therapist had been practicing DBT as this is a good indication of how adept he is on DBT. You can also ask for his or her client list so you can check with his clients personally on how good the therapist is.

How to Find DBT-Trained Therapist in Your Area?

To find a DBT-trained therapist in your area you may ask referrals from your doctor or other trusted medical professionals. You may also check out DBT Clinical Resource Directory to find therapists who have completed the Dialectical Behavior Therapy Intensive Training or the Dialectical Behavior Therapy Foundational Training.