Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)
At Cassiobury Court, we employ a brand of psychotherapy during rehabilitation known as Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT). This form of psychotherapy aims to tackle emotional problems and arms patients with powerful coping strategies to fight off the urge to relapse back into their addiction once their rehabilitation programme has concluded. DBT is a relatively new form of therapy developed during the 1980s by Dr. Marsha Linehan at the University of Washington. This method of therapy was originally designed to treat patients suffering from borderline personality disorder and those holding suicidal thoughts.
How DBT works
The word ‘dialectical’ is derived from Ancient Greek describing a method of argument for ‘resolving disagreement’ between two people holding different opinions, whilst arriving at the truth of the matter. The two conflicting goals this form of therapy attempts to unify is that of acceptance and change and building a ‘life worth living’. DBT is particularly effective at treating patients who are unwilling to change or where patients suffer from a poor self-image. Patients are taught to tolerate and accept thoughts whilst an effort is made to change destructive thoughts and emotions over time. Unlike other forms of therapy, patients do not feel they are being pushed into changing their ways.
During DBT sessions at Cassiobury Court, patients are asked to identify emotions and thoughts leading to the addictive behaviour. The therapist does not judge the patient on these thoughts and emotions and makes no attempt to encourage the patient to change. At all cost the therapist avoids patients feeling being ‘put on the spot’. Thus DBT is far less confrontational than other forms of therapy. The aim of DBT is simply to make the patient aware and accept thoughts and emotions without judgement. Meditation may be employed during DBT so patients are better able to identify and recognise mood changes they experience during sessions. Ultimately patients learn to regulate negative emotions since they are now able to recognise them on a conscious level. Patients become more ‘mindful’ of negative thought patterns which act as ‘addiction triggers’.
Group and individual therapy sessions
Like other forms of therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy, DBT is conducted in both group and individual sessions. Group work consists of 4-10 people who are also in rehab. Individual sessions are conducted one-on-one with a qualified therapist in utter privacy.
Four key tenants of DBT
The four key tenants of DBT include:
- Mindfulness: patients are taught to become ‘present’ in the moment. Patients are encouraged to observe their emotions without judging them. Much of this is borrowed from Buddhist teachings.
- Emotional regulation: patients are taught how to better control their emotions and impulses in ways other than resorting to drug or alcohol use.
- Distress tolerance: patients are taught powerful coping mechanisms to cope with negative feelings and thoughts.
- Interpersonal effectiveness: patients are taught strategies to cope with bad influences in their lives such as difficult family members and friends.