How To Decide If DBT Treatment in Pennsylvania Is Right For You

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (or DBT) is becoming an increasingly popular form of evidence-based psychotherapy for treating a wide range of mental health issues. DBT, mostly based on cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), was developed by psychologist Dr. Marsha Linehan and her colleagues in the 1980s to treat serious mental health disorders and high-risk behaviors, such as continuous suicide ideation. DBT differs most significantly from CBT in its emphasis on validating and accepting unpleasant emotions rather than trying to suppress or ignore them. DBT is now extensively used in both individual and group therapy for problems like BPD, depression, anxiety disorders, and substance use disorders (SUD). So if some of these issues are what you’re struggling with, DBT might be just the solution you’re looking for. But how to decide if DBT treatment in Pennsylvania is right for you?

To determine whether DBT is the right option for you, you first need to understand what DBT is and what makes this approach so unique and good. We at Little Creek Recovery understand the importance and benefits of the DBT approach, especially when it comes to addiction therapy. That’s why we’ve consulted professionals and prepared a thorough guide to help you determine whether DBT treatment is the best option. Even though DBT is beneficial for treating a variety of disorders

What is DBT treatment, and how do you decide if DBT treatment in Pennsylvania is right for you?

DBT has gained widespread acceptance as a therapy option for people with emotional regulation issues over the past decade. You might have been introduced to dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) by a therapist or psychiatrist, read about it online, or even personally know someone who has had DBT therapy. However, your question “Can DBT help me?” may persist despite your research and the advice of others. So to help you figure out if DPT treatment is just what you need, we’ve consulted DBT specialists from Pennsylvania, and here’s everything you need to know.

Two people hugging during a group therapy session
Group therapy is one of the main components of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.

What conditions benefit from DBT treatment?

For many years, the primary target population for dialectical behavioral treatment has been female patients with suicidal tendencies. The invention of DBT about 40 years ago has resulted in the greatest success in treating patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD) compared to other community-based behavioral treatment techniques. However, DBT’s efficacy in treating other illnesses has been well-documented. The effectiveness of DBT for treating mental health issues other than BPD is still being studied. This treatment approach can be useful for any mental illness that manifests as problematic conduct. DBT may be helpful for the following conditions:

  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD).
  • Depression and/or anxiety.
  • Eating disorders such as binge eating or bulimia.
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
  • Self-harm.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Mood disorders such as major depression and bipolar disorder.
  • Abuse survivors.
  • Substance abuse and addiction.
  • General behavioral issues such as conduct disorder or oppositional defiant disorder (ODD).

What does the DBT treatment approach entail?

DBT is a method that has many parts and is all-encompassing. It is based on learning skills to change unhelpful ways of thinking and acting. Modeling, instructing, telling stories, practicing, providing feedback, and coaching are all ways in which DBT therapists impart vital behavioral skills to their patients.

Man wearing a hat standing and looking at the sky
Practicing mindfulness or being present in the moment is one of the most important methods therapist use in DBT sessions.

DBT uses a wide range of methods for this purpose, such as:

  • Mindfulness. Mindfulness is the foundational skill for Dialectical Behavior Therapy. People study and practice present-moment awareness. Effectively slowing down and focusing on good coping techniques during pain requires mastery of the observation of what is going on inside—feelings, thoughts, sensations, and impulses.
  • Competence in interpersonal interactions. Since many DBT clients experience difficulties in their relationships, interpersonal effectiveness seeks to restore, sustain, and build constructive patterns of interaction within relationships as well as eliminate maladaptive patterns. This method includes training in assertiveness so that people can set and keep healthy boundaries with others and improve their ability to talk about themselves.
  • Controlling one’s emotions. This method aims to help people see the unfavorable consequences of their emotional reactions and replace them with more beneficial alternatives. Therapists can aid their patients in experiencing more pleasant feelings by instructing them on techniques for identifying and managing negative emotions and coming up with countermeasures.
  • Capacity to handle stress. In this part of dialectical behavior therapy, participants learn how to tolerate and cope with unpleasant feelings. Utilizing strategies like diversion and self-soothing can help people in times of crisis or distress deal with their overwhelming feelings in a more productive and healthy way.

What does DBT treatment involve?

Even though it has some similarities with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, DBT is different as it focuses on regulating emotions, being mindful, and learning to accept pain. The whole DBT program (as developed by Marsha Linehan) entails weekly group and individual sessions, as well as access to a coach by phone at all hours. DBT skills are taught in the context of the group. They offer members a set of tools for dealing with difficult emotions and situations. When working with a client one-on-one, therapists often go over a diary card. The Diary Card is a method for keeping tabs on your feelings throughout the week, noting when and how you employed specific DBT techniques and gauging the degree to which those techniques were successful. After identifying potential roadblocks to effective skill use, the therapist will collaborate with you to develop strategies for moving forward.

Person holding a piece of paper that says phone a friend
With genuine Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, phone counseling is available whenever you need it.

Let’s imagine that you were at a family gathering and that yours is the type of group that puts the “fun” in dysfunctional. You and a relative are having a conversation in which the relative expresses how much better off you would be now if you had been adopted. You stare at your relative, restraining the temptation to punch them in the face. As an alternative, you can dial the toll-free coaching helpline. The therapist advises that you cool your face with a spray of cold water (a skill called TIP). Having figured it out, you end the call and go give it a shot. It’s not like having a therapist on speed dial. It’s more like having a personal trainer by your side while you work through the skills you’re currently learning.

What are the main components of DBT treatment?

The four main parts of DBT are:

  • Individual therapy sessions. Weekly, individual sessions help people put their newfound DBT abilities to use in the face of real-world pressures. By requiring students to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to real-world scenarios, homework helps ensure that students actually retain the information they take in.
  • Group therapy focused on skill training. During group skills sessions, people actively practice new, healthy coping mechanisms they’ve been working on creating. The atmosphere within the DBT group is one of positivity and support. The individual takes action, outside of the group, to shape their surroundings in a way that favors their growth and development.
  • Coaching over the phone. In the event that a client experiences an emergency between sessions, they can reach out to their therapist for immediate assistance.
  • Therapist advisory group. It is important for therapists to feel appreciated and acknowledged in order to do their best work. In cases where therapists need assistance implementing effective treatment strategies, such as with a suicidal client or one who repeatedly misses appointments, a consultation team meets weekly to provide support.

What are the benefits of DBT treatment?

DBT’s strengths lie in its precision, structure, and intent on changing undesirable habits and routines. Among the many advantages of dialectical behavior treatment are:

  • Enhances the likelihood of a positive outcome during therapy sessions.
  • Reduces suicidal and self-harming thoughts and actions, improves mood, lifts spirits, aids in recovery from trauma, anxiety, depression, and stress, and fosters pride in one’s accomplishments when creating and achieving goals.
  • Some parts of one’s mind seem impervious to overcoming despair, bad ideas, and actions. However, DBT assists in reprogramming our minds and behaviors to help us realize and actualize our full potential.
Three people meditating outdoors
DBT can help people change their mindset and overcome different life obstacles easier through its methods.

Sometimes the results might be evident after only a few sessions. Treatment can last for a short time, a long time, or even forever. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) helps people learn skills that can be used outside of therapy and changed to fit the needs of each person.

DBT and addiction recovery

As we already mentioned, DBT has been shown to be greatly beneficial in treating patients with a borderline personality disorder. However, given that we at Little Creek Recovery are focused on addiction recovery and the challenges that go with it, we decided to dedicate the rest of this article to DBT and substance abuse. Individuals with a substance use disorder and other co-occurring disorders may also benefit from DBT. This is also true for those who have not responded to traditional evidence-based substance use disorder therapies. Several clinical trials have confirmed this.

In a DBT program that focuses on substance abuse, participants are encouraged to make a commitment to sobriety. They are also given tools to increase their motivation to make positive changes. Relapse is viewed as a challenge in dialectical behavior therapy for substance abuse. Therefore, therapists work with clients to identify and address the underlying issues that lead to their relapse. The goal is to make the individual more cognizant of the potential hazards of substance abuse.

Studies show that DBT can be a beneficial component in a comprehensive treatment plan for an individual with substance abuse issues and co-occurring mental health problems such as depression or borderline personality disorder. However, there is no definitive evidence that DBT helps to treat substance abuse on its own. One study found that DBT helped reduce substance misuse during treatment (and in the 4-month follow-up) for women with BPD who also struggled with co-occurring substance use disorders and also helped these patients be less likely to drop out of treatment.

Benefits of DBT treatment in addiction recovery

Many people with substance abuse issues can benefit from DBT therapy. The advantages may include, but are not limited to:

  • Reduced drug and alcohol consumption.
  • Reduction in the severity of withdrawal’s physical effects.
  • Lessening of drug-related impulsivity, cravings, and incentives to use.
  • Constructing and maintaining the limits required for sobriety.
  • Keeping away from anything that can serve as a catalyst for a relapse into substance abuse.
  • Reducing risky actions that lead to substance abuse.
  • Strengthening positive connections with others in a variety of success-fostering contexts.
Person talking to a therapist about how to decide if DBT treatment in Pennsylvania is right for you
Talking to a professional can help you decide if DBT treatment in Pennsylvania is right for you.

So how to decide If DBT treatment in Pennsylvania is right for you?

DBT may be the perfect choice if you’re having trouble with your emotions and it’s affecting your relationships, career, or academic progress or your ability to achieve your personal goals. DBT could also be useful if you struggle to manage your emotions. Additional indicators that you might benefit from dialectical behavior therapy are as follows:

  • If you often feel confused about who you are or that you’re drifting aimlessly without a purpose in life.
  • Extreme or unusual fluctuations in your emotional state.
  • If you feel sensitive or overly emotional.
  • You struggle to maintain healthy connections with your loved ones.
  • It’s possible that you have rage issues. It’s possible that you have a history of acting out in extreme ways. This usually means lashing out at the people closest to you.
  • You might be engaging in dangerous sexual conduct, excessive spending, substance misuse, or even self-harm.
  • You may feel an overwhelming sense of hopelessness or emptiness.

If you see yourself in these statements, DBT could be just the solution you’re looking for.

The bottom line

We hope this article helped you decide If DBT treatment in Pennsylvania is right for you. So whether you’re struggling with regulating your emotions or you’re battling substance abuse, we strongly encourage you to at least give this method a chance. We’re positive that, even after a few short sessions, you’ll notice a difference and improvement. So wait no more but reach out to experts from Little Creek Recovery and give yourself the help and support you need and deserve!

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