What is DBT (dialectical behavioural therapy)?

Dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) is a form of psycho-therapy designed to assist people with psychosocial disorders such as addiction and borderline personality disorder (BPD). When used as part of an addiction treatment program it supports recovery by promoting abstinence and reducing the likelihood of relapse. It also serves to combat the adverse impacts of relapse and Is useful in minimising the length of relapses if or when they occur.

DBT has proved to be a valuable treatment for addiction, suicidal behaviour, self-harm, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and eating disorders.

How does dialectical behavioural therapy work?

The fundamentals of dialectical behavioural therapy involve acknowledgement and acceptance of a change of feelings, thoughts and behaviours. Clients learn mindfulness techniques and distress tolerance. Mindfulness teaches how to be aware of the present moment and how to acknowledge and accept thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Distress tolerance provides strategies and a framework for how to manage and cope during a crisis.

DBT also teaches crucial skills for improving and developing an ability to adapt and change. Emotional regulation provides an understanding of how to take control and manage emotions without being overwhelmed by them. Clients will also learn interpersonal effectiveness skills. Which provides a foundation for how to appropriately ask for what they want, learn how to say no, and to manage themself in a manner that shows respect for self and others.

These techniques and modalities are delivered through individual and group therapy sessions.

How effective is DBT?

DBT was developed by psychologist Marsha M. Linehan in the late 1980s and has since become a well-established treatment option for substance use disorders. “Several randomized clinical trials have found that DBT for Substance Abusers decreased substance abuse in patients with borderline personality disorder. The treatment also may be helpful for patients who have other severe disorders co-occurring with SUDs or who have not responded to other evidence-based SUD therapies.” (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy for Substance Abusers, Addiction Science & Clinical Practise Journal).

Dialectical behavioural therapy encourages patients to build a life worth living by learning how to envision, pursue, and sustain goals unrelated to their substance use histories.

There are a range of qualities for overcoming addiction which DBT can assist with teaching:

  • Communication skills
  • Self-confidence
  • Coping techniques

DBT may also be effective when combined with other motivational and behavioural therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy and community reinforcement therapy.

DBT at Arrow Health

Dialectical behavioural therapy is one element of the individualised and holistic approach embedded in Arrow Health’s addiction treatment and recovery programs. Our team of qualified staff delivers a program which meets individual needs. We support clients and their families through the recovery journey, assisting them in reaching their goals.

To find out more about DBT, our programs, and how we can help you make the changes you want and need, please call our friendly team on 03 9533 7888.