Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

The Cove Center for Recovery offers Dialectal Behavioral Therapy (DBT) treatment options for its people in recovery.

What is DBT?

DBT encourages patients suffering from addiction and mental health issues to accept their disease and change the underlying patterns of behavior that led to addiction. The first step in DBT is to create an environment of unconditional acceptance, which is followed by identifying the need for complete buy-in to treatment from patients, who also need to be willing to take ownership of their dire level of emotional dysfunction.

Born of Buddhist principles in mindfulness and meditation, DBT is a modified form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that has been shown to effectively combat mood, eating, and substance abuse disorders. Originally developed to treat borderline personality disorder (BPD), DBT emphasizes techniques for emotional regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, and acceptance.

DBT was initially created to help patients who found CBT’s constant focus on change invalidating and counterproductive. For highly sensitive patients or those experiencing extremely painful problems like severe bipolar and addiction, the arousal levels of these clients are more extreme than that of the average person. DBT addresses these swings, helping the patient return safely to baseline arousal levels through self-awareness and coping skills training.

DBT usually involves weekly group or one-on-one psychotherapy sessions that focus on problem-solving skills to avert destructive behaviors and thinking patterns the person experiences on a daily basis.

The DBT approach emphasizes a strong patient-therapist relationship, with the therapist being seen as an ally rather than an adversary throughout the course of treatment. The DBT therapist sincerely accepts and validates the client’s feelings at any given time, while simultaneously helping the client realize that some feelings and behaviors are maladaptive. The therapists then proceeds to teach them healthier alternatives. The program asks the teen and the adults in recovery to systematically record their feeling on DBT diary cards.