Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Therapy is used in addiction treatment to address the underlying factors that contribute to substance abuse. There are many forms of therapy that may be utilized over the course of a person’s recovery. Some forms of therapy are more effective at treating specific needs in recovery. DBT therapy is one of the most prominent forms of therapy used in addiction treatment.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) was initially developed to treat those with borderline personality disorder and suicidal thoughts. Since then, the treatment has evolved to address several forms of mental illness as well as drug and alcohol addiction. This is largely due to the fact that there is often a correlation between mental health disorders and substance abuse. While not everyone with a mental health disorder uses drugs or alcohol, they often are at a higher risk to begin self-medicating for symptoms of the disorder.

DBT therapy focuses on helping clients develop coping mechanisms to deal with stressful situations in an effective way. One of the fundamental focuses in this form of therapy is helping clients change their behaviors in order to support their recovery. This may involve:

  • Helping clients change their environment and social groups to discourage substance abuse
  • Assisting in removing triggers such as drug paraphernalia and unhealthy relationships that influence everyday life
  • Developing self-esteem and confidence to help clients empower themselves to stay sober when faced with stressful or trying times

How Does DBT Therapy Work?

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that focuses on helping clients identify how their thinking, assumptions, and beliefs play into the development and continuation of addiction. In DBT, there is a large focus on changing those aspects of self to encourage growth. This may require a person to learn how to change things that are within their control and accept that not all aspects of the world can be changed. Instead, they must learn how to cope in healthy way with things they have no control over.

There are four core components used in DBT when treating clients which include:

  • Skills training: Developing skills to support sobriety is critical to success in recovery. DBT focuses on developing communication and coping skills to equip clients with the tools needed to practice mindfulness and emotional regulation. This helps address some of the biggest driving forces of continued substance abuse. By empowering clients to take control of how they respond to stressors, they are able to resist the urge to use drugs or alcohol as a means of escape.
  • Individual therapy: Individual therapy is a critical component of any recovery program. These sessions provide clients with one-on-one time to focus on their specific experiences and work through barriers. Individual therapy sessions are specifically tailored to address the needs of the client and evolve over time to address changes they will inevitably experience.
  • Phone coaching: Clients in DBT have the ability to reach out by phone to their therapists when faced with difficult situations outside of individual therapy or skills training. Through this channel, the therapist can help coach a client through distress using emotional regulation and techniques practiced in treatment. This can help them better manage stress and negative emotions during trying times.
  • Team consultation: Team consultation is focused on providing support to the therapist. Consultation teams can help therapists identify new methods of treatment and implementation of care that may improve their experiences with clients. By staying connected with the latest studies and research, therapists have access to resources that can help them better manage tough cases, sharpen their skills, and provide the most innovative treatment options.

How Does DBT Work in Addiction Treatment?

Therapy is a vital part of the recovery process for addiction treatment. While many forms of therapy may be used over the course of a dual-diagnosis treatment program, DBT is one of the most effective because of its ability to help clients create positive change in their behaviors and thought processes.

Addiction is fueled by numerous influences, but self-destructive behaviors and thought patterns are often one of the key contributors. Even when someone is aware of how these thoughts or behaviors negative impact their overall health, it can be difficult to change alone. Without proper care, it can easily become a roadblock in achieving sobriety. DBT helps clients come to terms with accepting things they cannot change while simultaneously providing them with the tools and resources to empower them moving forward. Learning how to manage unhealthy emotions, control cravings, and deal with triggers in alternative ways are all vital components of DBT.

DBT is a collaborative form of treatment that requires clients to work together with their therapist to evoke change. While the process may be intimidating in early recovery, over time, clients develop the skills needed to manage their sobriety independently. By overcoming the behaviors and thoughts that encouraged substance abuse, clients can instead focus on developing healthy relationships, removing triggers and enablers from their lives, reducing the influence of temptation, and minimizing the power of withdrawal symptoms.

DBT Therapy at Nexus

Nexus’ intensive outpatient, outpatient, and aftercare programs utilize DBT therapy, along with many other treatment modalities, to provide the most comprehensive dual-diagnosis treatment for those struggling with substance abuse and co-occurring mental health disorders. Our experienced clinical team utilize elements utilize DBT therapy and other evidence-based treatments to help our clients not only get off drugs and alcohol but learn to love a happy, successful, sober life. Individual and group therapy along with yoga, mindfulness practice, nutrition, adventure therapy and more, give our clients a variety of perspectives and opportunities for growth while also fostering community. With the support of staff and their peers, our clients learn the tools they need to succeed in recovery while in treatment and long after they leave our care.

If you are considering treatment for yourself or a loved one, call us today.

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