Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is a common element of addiction treatment programs. When you decide to seek treatment to overcome an addiction to drugs or alcohol, treatment specialists at your chosen treatment facility will use one or more of these therapy models to help address behavioral problems and any co-occurring mental health issues that often accompany addiction.  Although cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy share some similarities, there are also differences in the treatment models. 

What Is CBT?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT is a type of psychotherapy that has proven effective across a wide range of mental health and substance abuse issues. Some studies have indicated CBT is more effective than other forms of behavioral therapy when used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. The goal of CBT is to help participants learn to recognize and examine negative thinking patterns. 

CBT encourages the evaluation of thoughts and perceptions to better understand the roots of addiction and various mental health symptoms. Using newly developed problem-solving and critical thinking skills, participants can change negative thoughts and behaviors that further addiction into positive and healthy behaviors. CBT therapy works in the “present” to examine a person’s current life rather than the circumstances or events that led to their struggles with substance use. The goal of CBT is to move forward and, with therapy, develop healthier and safer methods of coping with triggers and stressors. 

What Is DBT?

Dialectical behavior therapy or DBT is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy. The primary goals of DBT are to teach therapy participants safer, healthier ways to cope with stress, regulate emotions and improve their relationships with peers and loved ones. Originally intended to treat borderline personality disorder, DBT has been successfully adapted to treat a variety of other conditions, including substance use disorders.

During DBT sessions at an addiction treatment center, clients work with their therapist to resolve the apparent contradiction between self-acceptance and change to bring about positive changes in the individual seeking to overcome addiction. A vital part of the DBT process includes offering validation which helps participants become more open to the idea of change. Like CBT, DBT is also highly beneficial for those seeking dual diagnosis treatment as the DBT model is proven successful as a part of many mental health treatment programs. 

How Are CBT and DBT Used in Addiction Treatment?

CBT and DBT are used in addiction treatment as part of a comprehensive, evidence-based addiction treatment program. When you begin treatment at Casa Serena, your treatment team will work with you to design an individual treatment plan that focuses on your unique needs and goals. Depending on your needs, your treatment plan may include CBT, DBT, or both. It is not necessary to choose one or the other as many people benefit from elements of both therapy models. Combined, both CBT and DBT can help you overcome addiction while building strong, healthy coping skills to manage triggers and continue with long-term sobriety. 

Both cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy can help you heal from substance use disorders and from the mental health challenges that often accompany addiction. Both therapy models can be used individually or combined in individual, group, and family therapy settings. 

For those seeking to overcome addictions to alcohol or opioids, CBT and DBT are typically integrated with detox and medication-assisted therapy programs to provide the most holistic treatment opportunity possible. DBT and CBT are used across all stages of addiction treatment, including the early days of treatment and recovery, aftercare, and relapse prevention. If you are ready to begin your journey to recovery, reach out to Casa Serena today to learn more about how CBT and DBT programs can help you achieve your sobriety goals. 

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