DBT Treatment For Addiction

What Is DBT?

Dialectical behavior therapy, commonly referred to as DBT, is a treatment program that is well-established and growing in popularity among individuals seeking help managing their drug abuse and mental illness symptoms. It has also proven to be an effective form of skills training for those struggling with their emotional regulation.

Developed by Dr. Marsha M. Linehan, dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT, individual therapy sessions are considered to be a comprehensive effort to provide patients with the coping skills and coaching that is needed to establish a new and healthy life. Initially, Dr. Linehan used DBT practices in the hopes of helping people escape from their suicidal thoughts and tendencies.

The individual therapist of the patient is typically the primary source of receiving the DBT treatment and is responsible for administering the treatment’s four fundamental objectives. They include:


Establishing new behaviors

Creating new and structured environments

Enhancing different capabilities

Encouraging to improve the motivation for change

Common Dialectical Behavior Therapy Options

There are many known drug and alcohol addiction treatment centers that are qualified to include dialectical behavior therapy as part of their recovery programs. Studies have shown how participating in DBT can help individuals who are in recovery be taught essential communication skills and self-confidence principals. Many other qualities like these can be prepared, which can help with the many difficulties of maintaining a sober and healthy lifestyle.

Dialectical behavior therapy has shown to be effective even when combined with one of the other forms of mental health and behavioral therapy types, which frequently include:

Motivational enhancement therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy

Contingency management therapy

Community reinforcement therapy

Among the DBT treatment methods and practices, certified substance abuse and addiction centers such as Shoreline Recovery in San Diego implement four essential components for improving a patient’s state of mental health. They include:

Individual 1:1 Therapy Sessions

Therapy that is offered in an individual setting is especially useful when being coupled with addiction treatment programs. Patients trying to recover from substance use disorder are provided with the proper tools and knowledge necessary to manage the accompanying symptoms that the drugs and alcohol are likely causing.


There are many skills and coping techniques that can be learned and applied when needed in the more tough real-life situations. DBT treatment sessions are tailored to each patient’s unique circumstances and continue weekly as the therapist deems it necessary. Counselors and support groups are excellent resources for patients to turn to when first learning to apply their newly developed skills into their daily routines.

Phone Coaching

Phone coaching is a proven method used to lower the probability of relapse. Individuals who have completed their treatment programs and working to maintain their sobriety have access to this form of therapy, to reach out to their therapist and receive instruction and advice over the phone.


Distress tolerance and emotional regulation are crucial techniques that can be learned during phone coaching, which can significantly help individuals manage stress, cope with thoughts and feelings, and improve overall interpersonal effectiveness.

Skills Training

Proper use of distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and mindfulness are a couple of necessary communication skills that can be helpful when used throughout their daily routines. Classes that teach these skills to be developed last for about two hours on average. These meetings typically take place once a week during an approximate 24-week duration.

Who Is Qualified To Provide Dialectical Behavior Treatment?

Being known and considered to be a form of formal psychotherapy, dialectical behavior treatment should only be administered to patients by a properly licensed and certified mental health specialist. With that being said, the initial and most apparent requirement that is needed to provide DBT treatment to real-life therapy sessions is to have successfully completed the series of comprehensive studies necessary to obtain an advanced degree in psychiatry, psychology, social work, or another similar professional field. 


Directly following the degree’s possession, it is then required that they become licensed to practice as a professional therapist in the state that they intend to provide those services.


This knowledge can prove to be useful, especially with those who are seeking DBT help or treatment for themselves or a loved one from a therapist that has been sufficiently trained and licensed. It is common and often encouraged to take the opportunity and ask the therapist about their credentials and ask about the treatment methods they intend on implementing throughout the course of their treatment regimen. 


Doing these things and having done your homework prior to the start of therapy has shown to be an effective way to break down any barriers and ensure the beginning of their therapeutic relationship has strong and healthy roots.

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