Features of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy is essentially a branch of psychotherapy originally created for the express purpose of treating borderline personality disorder. Taking many principles from cognitive behavioral therapy, it has also proven beneficial to patients suffering from anxiety, depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, various eating disorders and substance use disorder. This particular form of therapy focuses largely on validation and acceptance. The title refers to dialectics, the belief that all things are interconnected yet also impermanent, but that the recognition of opposing forces in our lives can help us to achieve a sense of balance. Dialectical behavior therapy also focuses on overcoming emotional vulnerability through optimistic self-assessments such as “I am doing the best that I can” or “I am capable of change.”

Benefits of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Patients who undergo dialectical behavior therapy learn a number of useful skills. These include emotional regulation, distress tolerance, conflict resolution and present-moment awareness. While dialectical behavior therapy is relatively new in comparison to many other forms of therapy, findings have shown it to be extremely effective. Even individuals who could not be diagnosed with any particular mental health disorder have been shown to demonstrate improved emotional well-being after undergoing dialectical behavior therapy. Additionally, those who engage in this particular form of treatment appear to have an easier time remaining focused and involved during their therapy sessions, whereas other forms of therapy are not always successful in producing this result.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Addiction

Throughout the course of dialectical behavior therapy, clients will pursue four primary goals that can play a pivotal role in addiction recovery. The first is learning self-control by understanding previous self-destructive behaviors and focusing on their reduction. Second, clients will learn emotional management. Rather than trying to escape or avoid difficult emotions, they learn to acknowledge and accept them. Third, clients will learn to focus on everyday obstacles such as interpersonal relationships and work responsibilities. While seemingly insignificant, these hurdles sometimes lead to stresses that can provoke relapse, so their management is highly important. Finally, clients will learn through the teachings of dialectics to feel less incomplete and more connected with the world around them. Through the fulfillment of these goals, dialectical behavior therapy can teach recovering addicts to build precisely the type of life that promises serenity and contentment in sobriety.