Understanding the Differences Between CBT and DBT


If you or someone you love begins treatment for a substance use disorder, you’ll likely experience psychotherapy. Also known as talk therapy, psychotherapy plays a key role in helping to address any underlying issues that may have led to addiction. It also helps people heal and learn ways to deal with the inevitable problems of life without the crutch of drugs and/or alcohol. The two most popular types of psychotherapy are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Despite being in the same family of therapies, there are key differences between CBT and DBT.

What to Know About Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)If counseling is part of your addiction treatment, it’s highly likely that your therapist will incorporate CBT. This is because CBT is a very popular treatment approach for mental disorders as well as for substance and behavioral addictions. CBT helps individuals explore the relationship between one’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Along these lines, CBT helps clients identify and correct negative, intrusive thoughts and beliefs and adopt new and healthy coping skills.

What to Know About Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)Dialectical behavior therapy is a specific form of CBT that was originally developed to treat chronically suicidal individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Over time, DBT has been adapted to treat people with multiple health conditions, including substance use disorders.

DBT is often used for those who may need more support and acceptance to overcome an addiction that stems from trauma or a difficult childhood. According to the tenets of DBT, some individuals are especially prone to react to certain emotional situations, primarily those from relationships with family, friends and romantic partners – all of which can impact the development of a substance use disorder.

There are four important components of DBT: interpersonal effectiveness, developing a tolerance to stress while accepting reality, regulation of emotions and learning mindfulness skills. These modules are used to achieve two goals: to support and validate individuals for who they innately are and to challenge them to make healthy changes and self-improvements. DBT also focuses on helping people seek out healthy environments and peer groups that support their recovery.

Traditional & Recreational Treatment Programs in ColoradoAt NorthStar Transitions, CBT and DBT are among the many therapy programs offered to those in recovery from a substance use disorder. Clients who become part of the NST community experience the best of traditional treatment methods and holistic, experiential therapies. To learn more about our treatment programs and services, contact us today. Call: 303-416-6867.

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