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Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a modified form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for those with severe psychosocial disorders. Recent work at the University of Washington suggests its effectiveness with chemical dependency, in particular, and some addiction specialists are incorporating DBT into rehab treatment plans. This form of therapy concentrates on skill development, coping strategies, and an individual’s strengths. Through a focus on positive reinforcement, Dialectical Behavior Therapy can decrease the number of self-destructive episodes an individual might experience, as well as their severity. The basic assumption of DBT is that people are doing the best they can but are lacking the skills necessary to function appropriately in any given environment.
There are basically four components of DBT:
Mindfulness is the foundation for the other skills taught in DBT, because it helps individuals accept the powerful emotions they may feel when exposed to difficult situations. Buddhist practice informs the mindfulness exercises used in DBT, though the version used does not contain religious concepts. DBT helps develop the capacity to be present, to pay attention without judgment, and helps individuals develop perspective on their emotional states.
Because the use of Dialectical Behavior Therapy in substance abuse is relatively new, it is not yet considered an evidence-based therapy. However, the increased use of DBT in the treatment of chemical dependency will likely yield statistical evidence to prove or discount its effectiveness.