Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) Program

Effective treatment delivers a spectrum of modalities that work in accordance with one another, providing you or your loved one with dynamic care that will become a cornerstone of your recovery. At The Treehouse, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, or DBT, is the keystone of our group therapy program.

DBT: A Dynamic Method That Is Foundational Within Our Treatment

Our multidisciplinary team has one goal in mind—to support you as you journey towards sobriety and begin taking steps towards recovery. The operative word in this statement is steps. We understand that this time can be overwhelming, which is why we integrate our treatments and modalities in a way that incrementally build off each other, in the hopes that it alleviates some of the strain the transition may cause you.

Our physician-led team, including licensed clinical therapists and substance abuse counselors, are highly trained with backgrounds steeped in substance abuse education. By this, they have come to realize the complexities of an addiction, and how every person’s specific history of experiences, perspectives and mental health concerns, can alter the scope of their addition.

At The Treehouse, we utilize only the best evidence-proven treatments, like DBT, that are geared towards unlocking each individual’s unique needs and concerns. With this in mind, we can develop an individualized and holistic rehabilitation plan for you. DBT creates a non-judgmental, therapeutic alliance between our counselors and you or your family member.

The History Of DBT

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy owes it roots to Dr. Marsha M. Linehan, an individual who sought to change the way that therapy encountered women who struggled with suicide and borderline personality disorder. Over time, it became evident that this therapeutic method had implications beyond this. Today, countless research illustrates DBT’s effectiveness for treating a range of other concerns, including a variety of mental health disorders and substance abuse.

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This is especially noteworthy in the field of addiction treatment, due to the reason that many individuals who suffer from an addiction also struggle with a co-occurring mental health disorder. DBT is a double-edged sword (with a positive connotation) that allows us to cut down these dual diagnosis concerns concurrently and thoroughly.

DBT was so effective beyond its original focus, in fact, that Lineman took an active role in helping to develop it as a substance abuse treatment. An article co-authored by her asserts that “When DBT is successful, the patient learns to envision, articulate, pursue, and sustain goals that are independent of his or her history of out-of-control behavior, including substance abuse, and is better able to grapple with life’s ordinary problems.”

DBT’s founding concept is based upon the root word of its name, dialectic, which, according to Merriam-Webster, is a philosophy that is “a method of examining and discussing opposing ideas in order to find the truth.” In this instance, the opposing notions are change and acceptance.

Goals Of DBT

Substance use and addiction are born out of certain maladaptive behaviors and mindsets. When you’re caught in the middle of these things and trying to change on your own, it can often be hard to obtain the perspective that is necessary to amend your ways. In addition, it can be overwhelming to look back on your life or view it in its present state, and comprehend the ways substance abuse has changed you.

Instead of berating yourself for these things or feeling ambivalent to the possibility of change, DBT encourages you to accept the way these situations make you feel. By identifying and validating the presence of the emotions, thoughts or behaviors that you struggle with, you will begin to feel more empowered over your situation and develop a readiness to change. Once you begin to understand the necessity for change, we will start working you towards certain goals.

Linehan’s article outlines the following substance abuse-specific behavioral targets, goals that we will strive to help you uphold within our program. They include:

  • Aiding an individual in decreasing their patterns of substance abuse that involve any form of illicit drug use, including the use of prescription drugs
  • Supporting individuals as they seek to become abstinent, and during the stages of withdrawal, by providing greater comfort and support
  • Help to reduce a person’s cravings, triggers and thoughts of using
  • Aid a person in restructuring their life so that they don’t face the temptation of potential triggers in people, places or events that might incite thoughts of drug use
  • Supporting you in finding the resolve to avoid behaviors that encourage drug use. Acknowledging that it may at times be impossible to completely avoid drugs, hence, assisting you in learning important coping skills, should a tempting situation arise.
  • Establishing community reinforcement to fortify positive behaviors and activities by helping you to begin or reaffirm healthy relationships and involve yourself in activities and environments that support a drug-free life.

Remember, sobriety is only the first step. In order to promote and nurture it, it is imperative that you mindfully adapt your life in these ways to cultivate abstinence and create lasting patterns of healthy behaviors.

The Five Functions Of DBT

In order to obtain the aforementioned goals, The Treehouse adheres to five vital functions of DBT. It is critical that DBT incorporates the following five functions, as sourced from “Dialectical Behavior Therapy,” originally published in the journal Psychiatry.

  1. Enhancing capabilities — Oftentimes, a person with an addiction will have a floundering grasp on their life. DBT helps you change this by teaching you valuable life skills and aiding you in learning increased measures of emotion regulation skills, mindfulness skills, interpersonal effectiveness and distress tolerance skills.
  2. Generalizing capabilities — Beyond learning these important skills, our clients need to learn how to implement them in their life, in order to obtain a true measure of success. These skills are not stagnant notions, rather we desire to modify our approach until we find what works best for you. We will help you to garner greater success by examining the ways in which you utilize these skills in your life and the results you get, while troubleshooting and adapting our approach to better serve your goals.
  3. Improving motivation and reducing dysfunctional behaviors — Addiction stems from unhealthy patterns. In order to change these, you need to not only understand how they originated but to determine if there are any elements that are reinforcing or prolonging these behaviors. We will help you use some of the skills you learned within the first function to better solve these problems and commit to the necessary scope of change.
  4. Enhancing and maintaining therapist capabilities and motivation — At The Treehouse, we desire to offer you only the best and most current standard of care. We believe in continuing education and strive to keep our staff up to date, encouraged and centered. This way they are en pointe and poised to provide you with the best leadership and support.
  5. Structuring the environment — Our aim is to help you reduce or completely stop destructive tendencies that imbalance your physical, mental and emotional states in a capacity that pushes you towards drug use. To do this, you may need to make significant changes to your environment and the way that you are living, so that you begin encountering people who are conducive to your sobriety and success. These are big steps, but we are standing by to help you learn how you can change your social spheres and activities to cut out temptations or mindsets that encourage drug use.

Creating A More Capable You

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy aims to help you create a life that is fulfilling, one that you encounter on a day-to-day basis with a greater level of optimism and an improved arsenal of coping skills. At The Treehouse, you have the daily opportunity to work towards developing these. The behavioral life skills that we mentioned in the previous section under function number one are so important that we’re going to devote a whole section on better understanding them.

  • Emotional regulation — Emotions can be fuel to the fire when a person is struggling with substance abuse or addiction. A person may compulsively try to contend with negative feelings of self-worth by using drugs or alcohol. By teaching and implementing better coping skills, and ways to cultivate positive emotions, we will aid you in becoming more well-versed in this critical avenue of self-care.
  • Mindfulness skills — As you’re working on your recovery, it can be easy to get bogged down by thoughts of both the past and future. While it is, at times, necessary to consider these periods, in order to foster progress and balance between the past, present and future, we will guide you in becoming more mindful or present in the moment. This practice grants you the introspection and self-knowledge that can be foundational while you’re striving to root out the negative and propagate the positive aspects of your life.
  • Interpersonal effectiveness — Humans can thrive off the support of one another, but at the same time, if we allow ourselves to engage in unhealthy relationships, we may find that we lose our resolve and fall prey to negative pressures and behaviors. This skill will help you to develop better boundaries to protect yourself, while learning how to more actively articulate your needs.
  • Distress tolerance skills — Life can be stressful; it is something that is unavoidable. As you seek to step away from drugs and alcohol, you need to learn how to tolerate this stress without turning to a substance as a solution. We will teach you how to implement and nurture coping skills that can create a more resilient you.

We want you to become proactive instead of reactive. By embracing these life skills, you increase your resiliency, which will help throughout your recovery and aid in warding off relapse. Lastly, DBT teaches our clients that if you do relapse, you are not weak or inadequate, rather that you have a problem that needs solving, with a solution that is made more readily available with these skills.

Accepting Where You Are, And Changing Where You’re Going

Every person with substance abuse or addiction has a different background and different needs. In order to better determine the path that we’ll take through your treatment and recovery, we will get to know you presently, so we can help you find a better future. At The Treehouse, we want to help you look inward and find the power and motivation to change. Contact us today, so we can get you started on a better and a brighter path.

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