Taking a Closer Look
A couple of weeks ago in our blog on emotional regulation, we mentioned dialectical behavior therapy and its excellent results in the treatment of borderline personality, substance abuse, and eating disorders. Judging from the number of questions we received about it, it seems quite a few of you would like to learn more and we’re going to pick the topic back up today. We’ll take a look at the evolution of dialectical behavior therapy, with its roots in popular therapeutic models of the early 20th century. We’ll also go over some of the key concepts, how those ideas are put into practice, and how they help clients on their path of mental wellness.
The Roots of Dialectical Behavior Therapy
In order to talk about what dialectical behavior therapy is, we need to talk about where it came from. DBT is an offshoot of cognitive behavioral therapy, which is itself a synthesis of both cognitive and behavior therapies. Behavior therapy began in the early 20th century and concerns action. If I take X action, I get Y as a result. The goal of therapy is to recognize this relationship and manipulate it for the desired effect. Cognitive therapy also began in the early 1900s and focuses on thought patterns. Because thought and action are so closely connected, by the 1980s, the two therapies merged and became a leading treatment for depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and other disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy involves recognizing cognitive distortions and minimizing, reframing, or changing them through action. This can include strategies such as motivational self-talk, developing coping skills, and goal setting.
DBT in Practice
Cognitive behavioral therapy evolved as a response to the ineffectiveness of behavioral therapy in treating depression. Similarly, dialectical behavior therapy arose from a need. Therapists in the 80s initially developed DBT to treat borderline personality disorder, a condition featuring unstable moods, behaviors, and relationships and which was proving resistant to CBT. DBT includes a greater emphasis on emotional regulation and distress tolerance. We start to take a look at our intense feelings and begin working to understand and accept them. Mindfulness techniques are an especially effective tool here and might include “non-judgmental awareness”. We note our feelings without judgment and let them move without reaction. We also develop coping skills and practice them in a controlled environment like group therapy. This way they become automatic in real-life situations. Clients start to view mental wellness as a process and learned skill rather than some unattainable state.
Build a Foundation for Success
Ocean Recovery, a nationally-recognized treatment center in Newport Beach, California, has been successfully treating substance abuse, eating, and co-occurring disorders since 2002. In addition to both DBT and CBT in our individual and group counseling sessions, we offer addiction education, nutritional therapy, yoga, and more. It’s all part of our “whole-person” approach to mental health. If you or someone you know is suffering from substance abuse or eating disorders, please don’t suffer in silence. Consider seeking professional assistance. Our admissions specialists are standing by to help you start building your foundation for success.