Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) is a specific type of talking psychotherapy and is closely related to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. It was originally developed in the 1980’s as a recognised treatment for those suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder. Since its original introduction, it has been used as a proven treatment for various types of mental health illnesses, including addiction. At Primrose Lodge, we use this highly effective treatment therapy as part of our powerful healing programme. Our qualified Counsellors are fully accredited and experienced in delivering Dialectical Behavioural Therapy; they individualise the therapy to treat patients suffering from addiction and various co-occurring illnesses. Dialectical Behavioural Therapy works well alongside the other therapies that we use as part of our comprehensive rehabilitation treatment programme.

What Is Dialectical Behavioural Therapy?

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) is a cognitive based therapy that helps the individual to identify assumptions, thoughts and beliefs that are unhelpful and therefore make their life harder to live. DBT identifies and challenges unhelpful and destructive thinking; the individual is then encouraged to take on a different perspective that positively alters their approach to life. For example, DBT can change an unhelpful thought such as “My experiences in life have left me damaged and unlovable” to a more helpful “The events in my life do not make me a bad person; I can grow from them and I am loved by others”. Those that suffer from addiction and mental health disorders are notoriously hard on themselves and take a self-defeating attitude – towards themselves, others and life. In order to recover, this type of thinking has to be abandoned in favour of a more compassionate and positive approach. This can be impossible for the individual to achieve on his or her own. DBT assists greatly in the process of change. Addicts and those suffering from mental health illnesses have a tendency to seek perfection in themselves and in others. By setting the bar too high, they inevitably always fall short. These unrealistic expectations contribute to feeling continually disappointed and let down. DBT is a solution-based therapy that focuses on the solution as opposed to the problem. It is highly successful in transforming the foundations of the individual’s cognitive thought processes, making life much more comfortable and bearable for them.

How Does DBT Differ from CBT?

DBT and CBT are types of talking psychotherapy and are closely linked. Both have been developed to help with unhelpful thought processes and behaviours; however, DBT also focuses the individual on acceptance of him or herself. DBT places particular importance on the patient/therapist relationship. The therapeutic relationship is then used to assist the individual in focusing on change. DBT discourages black and white thinking by pointing out the pitfalls and encourages more flexible thinking that fosters acceptance and change. What differentiates the two types of therapy is the subtle differences in the therapeutic relationship and the encouragement of self-acceptance.

What Does Dialectical Behavioural Therapy Treat?

DBT has been designed to treat those that struggle to process difficult emotions. The theory behind its evolvement is that some people feel emotions much more strongly than others. Those that suffer from illnesses such as Borderline Personality Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress, Depression, Anxiety and Addiction often display this characteristic as a symptom. By “right-sizing” emotions and learning new and healthier coping techniques, the individual’s quality of life is vastly improved. DBT therapists also use techniques to assist the individual in finding a balance in their extreme black and white thinking. Behind every emotion lies a thought process; if the thought process is not truth based this creates pain in the individual. DBT treats the thought processes underlying emotions. An example of this may be an individual who feels extreme fear and anxiety related to a past traumatic experience; here the DBT therapist encourages the individual to take responsibility for their own thoughts and feelings, recognise the truth relevant to the here and now and assist them in finding a solution to the way they are feeling without resorting to destructive behaviours such as self-harm, alcohol or drugs. DBT therapists develop a close therapeutic relationship with the individual that is formed on trust. It is this relationship that strengthens the recovery process. Patients learn to trust their therapist as they experience freedom from their own emotions through solution-focused techniques.

Encouraging Self-Acceptance

Through dialectics an individual can learn to understand and accept him or herself as they are, thus reducing internal conflict. With a strong therapeutic relationship with their therapist, clients are motivated to show themselves compassion and love in the scenarios that cause them the most distress and focus on a solution that encourages positive change.

Having no acceptance of oneself fosters negative emotions such as shame, guilt, anger and blame. By learning to accept and understand who they are, the individual learns self-compassion, empathy and motivation to change. Those who suffer from self-destructive mental health illnesses, often blame themselves for the events they have suffered in the past and the way they have dealt with them. Dialectics helps the individual to recognise that the past cannot be changed, but it can be processed, learned from and accepted.

“Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.” William James

How We Use Dialectical Behavioural Therapy

Primrose Lodge’s rehabilitation programme is based on 2 main types of solution-focused therapy:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • Dialectical Behavioural Therapy

We use these proven methodologies as a foundation for our recovery programme in treating:

  • Addiction
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

We combine CBT and DBT with other proven addiction and co-occurring illness treatments such as 12 Step, Music Therapy, Art Therapy and Mindfulness. Each patient is fully assessed by our qualified Doctor, experienced in treating physical and mental health conditions. A comprehensive treatment plan is then formed for our therapists to follow. We believe that it is only by treating the root issues within the individual, that addiction and harmful behaviours can be permanently overcome.

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0203 553 9263