Dialectical Behavior Therapy At Bedrock Recovery Center

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) can help people who experience intense, negative emotions, specifically those also living with drug or alcohol addiction or certain mental health disorders. At BRC, this form of therapy may be one part of your individualized treatment plan.

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Dr. Langdon M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly Langdon M.D.

on June 25, 2024

There are a wide variety of evidence-based therapies available for you at Bedrock Recovery Center, all of which serve a specific purpose and are proven-effective in treating specific conditions.

This includes dialectical behavior therapy, a type of psychotherapy based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that incorporates elements of mindfulness and acceptance-based strategies to help people learn how to manage strong emotions and make positive changes in their lives. The “dialectical” in DBT refers to the fact that this therapy embraces seemingly opposite concepts, encouraging people to accept themselves as they are while embracing positive change.

If DBT is part of your treatment plan, you will first meet individually with your therapist to gain insights into your emotions and life challenges and gain new skills to replace unhelpful behaviors. Then, you’ll move on to group sessions, where you’ll have the opportunity to practice and strengthen specific coping skills with your peers.

One of the benefits of receiving DBT, or any therapy, through Bedrock’s residential program is that you’ll have added support from your therapist and many additional supportive treatments and therapies to build your recovery and wellness toolboxes.

The Core Principles Of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

DBT has been shown to help manage a wide range of mental health disorders based on a few core elements that make it unique from other behavioral approaches.

Notice how each of the following elements features a dialectical approach, or one that encourages you to accept yourself as you are while simultaneously working toward change and personal growth. Working in a group setting often helps people make progress more quickly.


DBT emphasizes the practice of mindfulness, which involves learning how to consistently pay attention to the present moment, even if it is distressing.

Through evidence-based mindfulness practices, DBT can help you develop a better understanding of your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, including how often you suppress or react negatively to certain emotions.

Through this awareness, you become empowered to make more deliberate choices, ultimately improving your overall well-being.

Distress Tolerance

As you become more aware of your negative emotions, you will need tools for handling them in a healthy way. Distress tolerance skills help you handle emotional distress without resorting to self-destructive behaviors, even in a crisis.

This may involve learning techniques such as self-soothing, distraction, breathing methods, self-acceptance, and more.

Emotional Regulation

DBT can also help you bring balance to your emotions and ultimately your mood in everyday life. Through DBT’s skills and strategies, you will learn how to recognize emotional triggers, respond to intense feelings in a healthier way, and develop emotional resilience.

As you become better able to regulate your emotions, you will begin to see that you do have some control over how you feel.

Interpersonal Effectiveness

DBT also focuses on helping people improve their relationship skills. You will learn how to assert your needs, set boundaries, and handle conflicts.

By mastering these skills, you can express your needs more effectively to build healthier, more fulfilling relationships.

Applications For Dialectical Behavior Therapy

DBT has been shown to be effective in improving recovery and overall well-being in people with borderline personality disorder (BPD), suicidal ideation, mood disorders, substance use disorders, PTSD, eating disorders, and anxiety.

DBT can help both adults and adolescents, and it is a common part of mental health and substance abuse treatment programs such as the ones at Bedrock Recovery Center.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Dialectical behavior therapy was developed for treating people with BPD and is considered the only evidence-based treatment for this condition.

DBT provides skills and strategies for managing emotional dysregulation, reducing impulsive behaviors, and improving emotional stability, all of which are key for people with BPD.

The therapy is also effective in reducing self-harming behaviors and suicide attempts, which are common in people with BPD.

Mood Disorders

DBT can be used to help treat a variety of mood disorders, including depression and bipolar disorder.

Its usefulness for mood disorders centers on the fact that it teaches people skills to handle depressive symptoms. This includes techniques for increasing self-awareness and managing negative thoughts.

While DBT is not a replacement for medication in the treatment of mood disorders, it can be used as a complementary therapy by offering strategies to help manage symptoms.

Substance Abuse

DBT can help people with substance use disorders who particularly use drugs and alcohol to cope with overwhelming emotions. DBT can also be used to help people manage cravings and cope with other triggers.

As part of a comprehensive addiction treatment plan at Bedrock Recovery Center, DBT skills can help people facing addiction learn how to regulate their emotions, removing the need for drugs or alcohol.

Evidence For The Efficacy Of DBT

DBT has been proven to help treat the symptoms of mood disorders, substance use disorders, BPD, suicidal ideation, PTSD, anxiety, and eating disorders.

In one four-year study following 78 patients with BPD, DBT was shown to significantly reduce self-injury incidents and the number of inpatient hospital stays with an overall improvement in psychopathology.

In fact, at the end of the first treatment year, 77 percent of the patients no longer met criteria for a BPD diagnosis.

Another study showed that patients with bipolar disorder who underwent DBT intervention saw improved scores in manic and depressive symptoms when compared to the control group.

Overall, DBT has been extensively researched and has proven to be highly effective in enhancing emotional stability and improving the overall quality of life for participants.

Learn More About Treatment At BRC

If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of a substance use disorder, a mental health disorder, or co-occurring disorders, Bedrock Recovery Center can help. Contact us today to learn more.

  1. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (NIH) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2963469/
  2. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (University of Washington) https://depts.washington.edu/uwbrtc/about-us/dialectical-behavior-therapy/
  3. Dialectical Behavior Therapy Group Skills Training in a Community Mental Health Setting: A Pilot Study (NIH) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3191933/
  4. Effectiveness of dialectic behavioral therapy in routine outpatient care: the Berlin Borderline Study (NIH) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4579507/#:~:text=and%20general%20psychopathology.-,Results,met%20criteria%20for%20BPD%20diagnosis
  5. What Is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy? (Mind.org) https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/drugs-and-treatments/talking-therapy-and-counselling/dialectical-behaviour-therapy-dbt/
  6. Effectiveness of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy on Executive Function, Emotional Control and Severity of Symptoms in Patients with Bipolar I Disorder (NIH) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6796294/

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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