Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

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Healthy relationships and proper management of emotions create a foundation for mental health. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a form of talk therapy that teaches and helps maintain these skills. 

Given the vast array of therapies provided at Rock Recovery, DBT is one of the most popular. Dialectical behavior therapy empowers patients to work through their specific mental disorders with new techniques. These techniques intend to ground our patients and help them be mindful. The ultimate goal of DBT is to inspire our patients to find healthy ways to interact with themself and their relationships.

What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

Dialectical behavior therapy is a form of cognitive behavioral treatment. DBT is a treatment designed for people who have not found success in other models of therapy. Currently, DBT serves as a treatment for people with various mental health issues. However, DBT was initially developed to treat people with borderline personality disorder. 

The word “dialectical” pertains to the idea of bringing opposite concepts together; in this instance, terms such as “change” and “acceptance.” DBT plays a vital role in the therapeutic process for those with challenging conditions to treat. The general focus of DBT is building acceptance and problem-solving skills in our patients. 

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How Does Dialectical Behavior Therapy Work?

The goal of dialectical behavior therapy is to encourage patients to live presently in the moment. With a focus on the patient’s interaction within their relationships, DBT helps break down those relationships and the emotions that come with them. DBT works by teaching skills that will help you deal with grief and stress while keeping you in tune with your emotions. Patients within DBT have emotional responses often more intense than the average person. Our program helps patients deal with these emotional spikes.

The Three Basic Principles of DBT

  • The only constant in life is change, and change is inevitable.
  • Opposites sometimes can be formed to lead us closer to the truth.
  • All things remain constant.

Dialectical behavior therapists strive to make patients feel understood and supported regarding their life circumstances. While not condoning bad behavior or habits, our therapists let patients feel vulnerable and open to change. 

What Types of Techniques Are Involved In DBT?

The three primary techniques of DBT include:

  • Individual therapy sessions: Individual sessions combined with group sessions give patients several therapeutic opportunities. The combination of therapies is offered uniquely by DBT. Patients find several benefits from individual sessions. The therapist creates an environment that encourages problem-solving behavior, self-respect, and the development of social skills.
  • Group therapy sessions: These weekly sessions are guided by a mental health professional explicitly trained in DBT. The sessions typically are around two and a half hours. 
  • Phone coaching: If the patient cannot see their counselor in person, we offer phone coaching. This option is also available if the patient feels overwhelmed or simply needs extra support.

Basic Components of DBT

Dialectical behavior therapy offers several other general components as well. At Rock Recovery, we encourage our patients and counselors to work together. This DBT approach lets the patient feel validated while learning how to maintain relationships.

To build up our patient’s strengths, we use a support-oriented approach. We intend to improve the patient’s self-esteem, which will, in turn, promote a healthier mindset and lifestyle. In order to reach our full potential, we must identify the behaviors, emotions, and thoughts that hold us back. 

DBT invigorates change and helps our clients accept their current circumstances. Acceptance and change play pivotal roles in mental health wellness within DBT. 

The Stages of DBT

The stages and goals of DBT are systematically calculated. Our goal with dialectical behavior therapy is to address all of our patient’s concerns. Therefore, each step sifts through emotional issues ranging from less severe to extremely severe. 

  • Stage 1: This stage generally focuses on stabilizing the patient. People in DBT often deal with suicidal thoughts, self-harm behavior, or addiction. Our therapists strive to guide patients to gain control of their problematic emotions. We want to keep the patient safe and free from dangerous behavior.
  • Stage 2: Once our patients reach a more stable mindset, we begin to explore their traumatic experiences. Behavior is more stable in this stage, but mental health issues are still often present. We use this stage to let our patients feel the pain that is burdening their mental health. The second stage’s goal is to form proactive habits of dealing with painful emotions instead of burying them.
  • Stage 3: To achieve stability and happiness, we encourage goal setting. Maintaining stability and progress is not an easy task. Keeping goals in mind is a proven way for patients to stay true to their recovery.
  • Stage 4: In this stage, patients advance their lives toward recovery and fulfillment. Therapists offer support and skills to keep our patients striving for success and happiness. At this point, patients continue to improve on their learned skills with continued assistance. 

Modules of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Four different modules make up dialectical behavior therapy. Each module is based on accepting change and promoting the ability to adapt while regulating behavior and emotions.

Emotion Regulation

Gaining control of how you feel during intense emotional situations or interactions is imperative for patients in DBT. Patients in DBT learn that emotions can either lead to positive or adverse effects. People with mental health issues such as borderline personality disorder often have trouble containing urges or mood swings. Through DBT, our therapists and counselors teach skills that positively regulate emotions to solve problems. 

Interpersonal Effectiveness

Healthy relationships are at the base of a healthy life. DBT regards interpersonal skills as essential within day-to-day life. Interpersonal effectiveness generally means how adept you are at interacting and maintaining relationships. This goes for long-term relationships and simple interactions throughout the day. 


Mindfulness goes hand in hand with acceptance. To be mindful, one must be willing to accept everything within the present moment. DBT offers six skills regarding mindfulness. These skills are divided into “what” and “how.”

The “what” skills are “describe, observe, and participate.” These skills help you understand your focus on each moment while tracking your thoughts and emotions. The “how” skills are “one-mindfully, effectively, non-judgmentally.” These skills promote mindfulness.

Distress Tolerance

During times of distress, mindfulness is most difficult. DBT expresses the importance of remaining mindful even in crisis situations. In DBT, patients learn to accept stress as it occurs instead of looking to habitual destructive behavior. Dialectical behavior therapy provides patients with the tools needed to not turn to substances or impulse behavior. 

The tools to deal with stress that distress tolerance aims to teach are:

  • Improving the moment
  • Self-soothing
  • Distracting
  • Reviewing pros and cons 

Who Can Benefit From DBT?

Dialectical behavior therapy can offer healthy outcomes to a variety of people. Even though it was initially designed for people strictly dealing with borderline personality disorders, DBT proves successful in multiple mental health facets. DBT may help those experiencing: 

What Is The Difference Between Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

DBT is a branch of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). DBT mainly focuses on a person’s interaction with their environment as well as their relationships. The two forms of treatment do work in conjunction with each other. CBT focuses on a person’s behavior, thoughts, and feelings. Another significant difference is that CBT only uses one-on-one sessions. 

CBT In Depth

In cognitive behavioral therapy, the patient explores their thought patterns and how it affects them. Therapists experienced in cognitive and behavioral psychology help patients break down their unproductive thoughts. CBT intends to let the patient interact with difficult situations in a more precise, productive way. 

CBT is generally a short-term therapy. The counselor and patient determine the length of treatment, ranging from five to twenty sessions. The amount of therapy recommended typically depends on:

  • How long the patient has dealt with certain conditions
  • The level of support the patient has from loved ones
  • How much stress the patient currently experiences
  • The pace at which the patient progresses through therapy 

How To Get The Most Out of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Therapy only works if the patient shows up for treatment both mentally and physically. DBT is no different. To get the most from DBT, we recommend that the patient trust the process and not skip sessions. 

The speed of progress also depends on how much the patient practices their new skills outside of treatment. DBT utilizes homework to encourage patients to apply their skills in aspects of their lives outside of the classroom. Participation in the offered group sessions is another way to get the most from DBT. Using newly learned skills in a group setting can be invaluable in the recovery process. 

Find Treatment at Rock Recovery Center

The therapeutic journey does not happen overnight. Dialectical behavior therapy is an extremely viable option for many people with mental health disorders. Of the many options of therapies available at Rock Recovery, DBT is one of the most popular. If you or a loved one needs treatment, please contact us today.

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