Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is one of the most effective mental health therapies developed in the 20th century. In the 1970s, psychologist Marsha Lineman developed this behavioral therapy using some of the principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Dialectical behavior therapy is a proven, best practice treatment for various disorders, including borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and substance use disorders (SUDs).
At CeDAR, DBT is one of the many evidence-based therapies used to treat mental health disorders and addiction. It can also be used in dual diagnosis treatment when addiction co-occurs with a mental health disorder. The effectiveness of dialectical behavior therapy is significant and widely recognized by mental health clinicians worldwide. To learn more about DBT and how it can help you or someone you love, reach out to CeDAR today by using our online form or calling us at 720.848.3000.
What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?
This behavioral therapy operates within a dialectic, which depends on two different things being simultaneously true. These two seeming opposites within DBT are acceptance and change. DBT helps patients accept what is and make internal shifts to change outcomes. This approach creates positive action—healing—through opposing forces.
As it’s rooted in principles of mindfulness, dialectical behavior therapy allows people with anxiety, PTSD, suicidal thoughts, addiction, and other similar issues to find balance through acceptance. This process helps people move towards healthy behaviors and long-term healing and wellness goals without trauma.
What Are the Pillars of DBT?
Dialectical behavior therapy rests on four pillars that reflect the principles and goals of this critical therapeutic approach. The four pillars are:
- Mindfulness – Focusing on the present moment is a constant practice in DBT. A mind that has lost its balance often copes with stress or painful and challenging emotions impulsively or reactively. Mindfulness practices, including meditation and conscious breathing, quiet the mind and refocus it on the now rather than what is feared, expected, or desired. The quiet mind makes the other four pillars possible.
- Distress tolerance – People with SUDs, or mental health diagnoses such as anxiety or PTSD, often struggle to tolerate unexpected or upsetting events in life. Hardships can seem intolerable or even act as triggers. Learning to handle distress is fundamental in DBT. Practicing mindfulness, the first pillar, helps with this.
Interpersonal effectiveness – The ability to communicate effectively with people is often a casualty of mental health challenges and addiction. DBT helps patients communicate confidently and successfully while creating and honoring healthy boundaries.
- Emotional regulation – The wide swings in emotion that are so common for those who experience a mental health or substance use disorder can delay healing and recovery. Learning how to achieve balance and remain centered while experiencing emotional highs and lows is a goal and pillar of DBT. Managing emotions does not mean you stop feeling them. It just means that they stop controlling you.
You can probably see how interconnected the four pillars are. Mindfulness helps you tolerate distress and develop emotional regulation, and all of these support healthy relationships and communication, enhancing quality of life and confidence.
Consider Undergoing DBT at CeDAR
What is dialectical behavior therapy like when you are being treated at CeDAR? It is a profoundly supportive and healing therapy to help you improve your mental health or achieve your recovery goals. As one of the evidence-based therapies offered at CeDAR, DBT can be used in one-on-one or group therapy and can also play a part in family therapy. It is trauma-informed and teaches skills you will use throughout life to maintain equilibrium when facing challenges and blessings.
Learn more about DBT by speaking to one of CeDAR’s trained professional staff members. Call 720.848.3000 or complete our online form to connect.