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Utilizing DBT Techniques

man sits on a couch and is talking to his therapist who has a clipboard and is explaining some dbt techniques

It can take a variety of therapeutic techniques to treat a substance use disorder or other type of mental health concerns. A dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) program in a patient’s treatment plan can have a powerful effect on stress management and emotional regulation. The main goal of DBT is to help patients develop skills for managing difficult emotions and behaviors. Contact Evoke Wellness at Waltham at 866.276.1920 today if someone you know could benefit from DBT techniques.

What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Addiction?

Dialectical behavior therapy is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) that has been found helpful for treating people with self-destructive behaviors such as substance use disorders. It is also used to help people heal from trauma and recover from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

DBT is an evidence-based form of psychotherapy that includes both group therapy and individual therapy. It is designed to help people learn new skills to cope with difficult emotions and reduce impulsive behaviors that may lead to self-harm or substance use.

Understanding the Types of DBT Techniques

Like most forms of therapy, DBT includes several different techniques designed to help patients with specific issues. These techniques include:

  • Distress tolerance
  • Core mindfulness
  • Emotion regulation
  • Interpersonal effectiveness

A therapist might suggest specific homework exercises to help patients understand the benefits of each technique and apply the lessons to their everyday lives.

Distress Tolerance

Distress tolerance helps patients accept their present circumstances and accept themselves as they are right now. It teaches ways to handle crises when they arrive. A typical distress tolerance exercise might be simply distracting yourself from distressing feelings by putting your body in a new place or position.

Core Mindfulness

DBT focuses on the importance of mindfulness skills, or the ability to live in the moment without dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. A core mindfulness exercise might include a simple breath exercise like watching your belly fall and rise with each breath.

Emotional Regulation

People who have experienced trauma and those with substance use disorders often lose the ability to regulate their emotions. The ability to recognize strong emotions, analyze them, decide whether they are appropriate, and change them happens easily for people with good mental health, but the process can be much more difficult for others.

One exercise to help with emotional regulation is to do the opposite of what you’re feeling. For example, if you feel like isolating, spend time with loved ones instead.

Interpersonal Effectiveness

Interpersonal effectiveness helps patients to become more assertive and create healthy boundaries. The acronym “GIVE” describes one of the exercises commonly recommended for practicing interpersonal effectiveness.

The letters in GIVE stand for:

  • Gentle – Don’t judge, threaten, or attack others
  • Interest – Use good listening skills when others are speaking
  • Validate – Acknowledge the other person’s feelings even if you don’t share them
  • Easy – Try to “take it easy” when you can, and don’t stress about small things

A person who is recovering from alcohol use disorder must learn to protect their personal boundaries to safeguard their recovery. They can apply the GIVE exercise when dealing with people who threaten their sobriety, as well as when repairing relationships that were harmed by their drug or alcohol use.

Using DBT Techniques in Recovery

The exercises in DBT give patients an opportunity to apply the techniques to life outside of a therapy room. The techniques aren’t a cure for maladaptive behaviors, but they are intended to help patients recognize their habits and triggers while providing new skills to handle those habits and triggers.

For example, the distress tolerance technique helps patients see that they can handle distressing feelings without turning to substance use. Changing body posture, going for a walk, and other actions can distract from the uncomfortable feelings until they cycle through.

The techniques used in DBT can improve the patient’s ability to manage difficult emotions, reduce impulsive behaviors, and make healthy choices. If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder or other mental health concerns, consider reaching out to a DBT program for support and new coping skills. Remember, recovery is possible with the right tools and resources.

Call Evoke Wellness at Waltham to Jumpstart Your Recovery with DBT Techniques

DBT is just one of the therapeutic approaches that may be included in an individualized treatment plan when you enter one of the recovery programs at Evoke Wellness at Waltham. Our experienced therapists and professionals will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan that addresses your unique needs and goals for recovery. To learn more about dialectical behavior therapy for addiction, call Evoke Wellness at Waltham at 866.276.1920 or contact us online with any concerns or questions.