Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

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DIalectical Behavior Therapy For Teen Substance Abuse

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) allows your teen to identify and alter the ways their emotions impact their behavior — achieving greater balance.

What Is DBT and What Does It Do?

Dialectical behavior therapy comes from evidence-based treatment known as cognitive behavioral therapy. Developed in the 1980s as a way of treating borderline personality disorder, DBT is highly effective at treating substance abuse, as well as co-occurring mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and trauma/PTSD. This talk therapy approach is especially useful for teens, as it gives them the skills to regulate their emotions, live in the moment, improve their relationships, and tolerate negative emotions. These skills can be helpful not only on your teen’s recovery journey but also in all types of personal and professional relationships.

DBT is organized around the concept of dialectics — the premise that every situation is made up of opposites. These opposing forces create a balanced relationship or “dialogue.” Together, they allow change and acceptance. Meanwhile, dialectical behavior therapy is undergirded by three general principles: 

How Can Your Teen Put DBT Principles Into Practice?

With the help of our behavioral health experts, teens at Safe Landing will learn the four main strategies of dialectical behavioral health — for a more balanced, more fulfilling life.

  1. Mindfulness: When your teen learns mindfulness, they learn to live in the moment — focusing on their immediate situation and emotions. That means they’re not “in their head,” but rather, grounded and in touch with what is occurring at that very moment. 
  1. Emotional regulation: This strategy teaches your teen to identify their emotions, name them and sort them out. Of course, some emotions are challenging — and in some cases, work against your child’s best interest. We’ll show them tools to change their emotional response, so they’re not at the mercy of their feelings.
  1. Distress Tolerance: Sometimes in life, we find ourselves in situations we just can’t change, and that can create distress. Through DBT techniques, your teen will learn how to get through those negative emotions and come out the other side — without having to escape into substance abuse or other unhealthy behaviors. 
  1. Interpersonal effectiveness: Your teen will learn how to build healthier, more positive relationships while communicating well and asserting him- or herself. These are lifelong skills that serve your child long beyond their time at Safe Landing.

Can DBT Help Teens in Recovery?

Simply put, yes. In fact, our behavioral health team has extensive training in dialectical behavior therapy, and for people seeking substance abuse treatment for teens. Safe Landing has seen many of our clients discover better self-confidence and coping skills when they understand they control their emotions — not the other way around. Plus, we combine DBT with a number of other effective treatment modalities — such as trauma therapy, animal-assisted therapy, and wellness — for a complete, well-rounded approach. We’d love to talk with you and help you determine if DBT could be right for your child. Give us a call or, better yet, come by and visit us! 

Dialectical behavior therapy can bring your teen greater balance.

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