Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) at Duffy’s in Northern California

If you’re struggling with any kind of addiction, it can be hard to find a recovery program that will best suit your needs. You want something that’s going to work, but if you’re a working professional or someone with various responsibilities, it can be difficult to find a program that will fit your schedule and daily lifestyle. Simply put, you may not have the time necessary to commit to an inpatient treatment center or other more intensive programs.

Understanding Dialectical Behavior Therapy

A treatment option worth considering is DBT, which stands for dialectical behavior therapy. DBT is set up in a way where you can get 24/7 support while staying committed to your day-to-day routine.

At its core, dialectical behavior therapy is about joining two opposing concepts: acceptance and change. Many types of therapy put more focus on one over the other, but DBT links the two, promoting the idea that together they can lead to a richer, fuller outcome. With any addiction, acceptance is a cornerstone of recovery. You need to be willing to accept that you have a problem, and where your life is right now. In addition to acceptance, though, DBT emphasizes change. Although acceptance is crucial, having a desire to change and a belief that you can work harder than you are to get the life you want is what balances DBT. It’s a constant, simultaneous balance: accepting where you’re at, but working to change what’s ahead.

Utilizing a DBT Therapist

Change is put into action by setting various behavioral targets. A DBT therapist will help you set goals for yourself so that you’re constantly moving toward change. For example, at first, a behavioral target might be to focus on how you relate to yourself. Instead of seeing yourself as A, B, or C, you’ll set a target to change that. As you move along in therapy, the targets will change. Rather than focusing on behaviors that you want to stop, you’ll choose behaviors that you want to gain and enhance.

Targets and goals are often discussed in DBT. For anyone with an addiction, it’s important to know that you’re not currently living your best life. In DBT, you’ll dig deeper and discuss what you want your future life to be like. By setting clear targets, it’ll be easier for you and your therapist to gauge your progress. DBT is not simply a “stop your addiction” program. It goes beyond that. Your therapist will not only help you with your addiction, but they will also guide you as you work toward the life you’ve always wanted to live, one step at a time.

A relationship with a trained dialectical behavior therapist is different from a relationship you might have with a regular counselor or therapist. A reason DBT is effective is because the therapist and individual see each other as equals. It’s not a teacher-student relationship, where one has all the answers. It’s more of an honest dialogue between two equals. Your targets will be as important to your therapist as they are to you.

Modes of Treatment

DBT is broken down into four modes of treatment: individual therapy, skills group, skills coaching, and a consultation team. Individual therapy is where you meet one-on-one with your therapist. In these meetings, there will be a focus on your various behaviors, including what you’re doing to change your less desired behaviors and gain your more desired ones. There will also be some take-home work, which may consist of you keeping track of your behaviors and emotions. Keeping track in a journal will help you and your therapist see where you’re progressing and regressing between sessions.

Skills group is where you meet with others to learn various skills and coping mechanisms. During these joint sessions, you’ll learn about different emotions and behaviors, in addition to methods that will help you manage them. Learning with others in a small group will leave more open time for you and your therapist to discuss your progress in your one-on-one sessions.

Skills coaching is a huge part of DBT and a main component that sets it apart from other treatments. Having a consultation team is another hallmark of DBT. Your therapist has a team of others they can rely on if they need another opinion, if they have questions, or if they need some encouragement. With you and your therapist being equals, it’s important for each of you to have a support network. You’ll have your therapist and skills group, and they’ll have their consultation team.

Approaching Treatment Differently

While other treatments can take up days and weeks of your time, DBT only takes a couple hours a week. It’s important for you to be able to apply the changes you’re learning, whether at home, work, school, or anywhere else. DBT was designed with the individual in mind, knowing that if you’re going through recovery, it’s important for you to be able to see the progress you’re making along the way.

DBT is different from traditional treatment options. However, it’s not for everybody. It’s important for you to research several options to determine what would work best for you. But, if you do choose DBT, you’ll be able to hold onto your independence, be treated as an equal, and have a therapist who’s available for you whenever you may need them.

In whole, DBT is about understanding that your best days are ahead of you.

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On July 26th, 2013, I entered Duffy’s after detoxing. Thanks to the good foundation I got here, I am still sober! I hope the first Monday’s activities are checking out what meetings you will go to after you leave Duffy’s. I am still going to the ones I wrote down 5 years ago. Thanks for being there for folks like me who could not stop drinking.

– A former guest
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