Dialectical Behavior Therapy
It sounds very technical but the purpose of dialectical behavior therapy is pretty basic: to change negative, self-harming behaviors. This often encompasses addiction, borderline personality disorder, and other similar conditions where the person exhibits behavior that is counterproductive to establishing and maintaining healthy relationships and habits.
Psychcentral.com gives a very thorough description of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). They provide 3 characteristics of DBT: support-oriented, cognitive-based, and collaborative. DBT identifies the client’s strengths and builds on them, which creates a base of confidence that is sustainable and positive. Additionally, DBT teaches the client to have a better mental dialog. Instead of the client expecting him or herself to react unrealistically to normal situations, the client is taught to accept his or her feelings. For example, someone with an addiction may feel particularly stressed about an upcoming holiday. In the past, this would lead to more stress, triggers, and then self-harming behaviors. After undergoing DBT, this person may learn to recognize his or her stress and accept it without passing judgment. The last part of the 3 characteristics, collaborative, is a constant interaction between client and therapist. For this, the client is calling to talk to or attending a session with the therapist where they may role-play typical interactions that may otherwise have been difficult for the client. The client also has homework assignments and practices positive self-soothing behaviors that are suggested by the therapist.
Traditionally there are 4 standard skills that can be learned from dialectical behavior therapy. With these 4 skills, the client will have developed a way to handle any situation that would have typically led to self-harm or triggered an addiction. These are mindfulness and meditation skills, interpersonal effectiveness skills, distress tolerance skills, and emotion regulation skills.
Mindfulness and Meditation Skills
This sounds familiar, huh? That’s because mindfulness has recently been on pretty much everyone’s radar, in and out of the mental health treatment environment. The thing is, mindfulness benefits any person regardless of circumstance. It’s a mental exercise that helps you to stay in the moment you are in, being completely aware of your surroundings, and then actively choosing not to let yourself pass judgment. Rather than thinking negatively about the draft coming through the window, you simply observe and feel the draft and let the negativity pass through you.
Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills
This skill is something you may have talked about in your workplace or another assertiveness seminar. It is the type of skill that helps you engage in productive conversations with others, learning to listen to them, and come up with solutions together. This is important to DBT because it helps the person avoid escalating to the point of self-harm.
Distress Tolerance Skills
One difficult part about addiction or other mental health disorders is the declining ability to handle even every day stress. In DBT the therapist and client discuss and practically apply many self-soothing skills that teach the client how to relax and take a step at a time. This rewires the client to be able to not only handle but also reduce stress that they may be feeling or they may feel in the future.
Emotion Regulation Skills
Emotion regulation has some similarities to distress tolerance, but it incorporates a broader view of how any situation is handled by the client. For example, the client may want to ask their boss for a promotion, but has trouble feeling comfortable asking for a sit-down and interviewing effectively. While this is not a crisis situation, and does not necessarily put the person into a panic, it may be uncomfortable enough that the client will not follow through with this desire. This is just one simple example since there are so many other areas of life where we all have to regulate our own emotions in order to accomplish goals or even just to progress important relationships in our lives.
At Lifeline Connections, we take your addiction seriously. We look at each situation as unique and we provide custom treatment between you and a coach. If you are in the Vancouver, WA or Portland, OR areas and desire to break the cycle of addiction or seek mental health services, give us a call or email us with your questions. As a residential addiction treatment facility and an outpatient mental health provider, we provide many different options and therapies to meet your needs. 360-397-8246 ext. 7580 or firstname.lastname@example.org