Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)

What is Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) is a form of psycho-therapy designed to assist people with psychosocial disorders such as addiction and borderline personality disorder (BPD). When used as part of an addiction treatment program, it supports recovery by promoting abstinence and reducing the likelihood of relapse. It also serves to combat the adverse impacts of relapse and Is useful in minimising the length of relapses if or when they occur.

DBT has proved to be a valuable treatment for addiction, suicidal behaviour, self-harm, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and eating disorders.

How does DBT work?

The fundamentals of dialectical behavioural therapy involve acknowledgement, acceptance and change of feelings, thoughts and behaviours. Whilst undertaking DBT, clients learn mindfulness techniques and distress tolerance. Mindfulness teaches how to be aware of the present moment and how to acknowledge and accept their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Distress tolerance provides a framework and strategies for how to manage and cope during a crisis.

DBT also teaches crucial skills for improving develop an ability to adapt and change. Emotional regulation provides an understanding of how to take control and manage your emotions without being overwhelmed by them. DBT clients will also learn interpersonal effectiveness skills. These provide a foundation for how to appropriately ask for what they want, learn how to say no, and to manage themself in a manner that shows respect for self and others.

These techniques and modalities are delivered through individual and group therapy sessions.

How effective is DBT?

DBT was developed in the 1970’s and has since become a well-established treatment option. It has been adapted to include features that target the treatment of substance use disorders. “Several randomized clinical trials have found that DBT for Substance Abusers decreased substance abuse in patients with borderline personality disorder. The treatment also may be helpful for patients who have other severe disorders co-occurring with SUDs or who have not responded to other evidence-based SUD therapies.“ (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy for Substance Abusers, Addiction Science & Clinical Practise Journal).

DBT encourages patients to build a life worth living by learning how to envision, pursue, and sustain goals unrelated to their substance use histories.


DBT at Arrow Health

Dialectical behavioural therapy is one element of the individualised and holistic approach embedded in Arrow Health’s addiction treatment and recovery programs. Our team of qualified staff deliver a program to meet individual needs, support clients and their families through their journey and assist them in reaching their goals. To find out more about DBT, Arrow Health’s programs and how we can help you make the changes you want and need, , please call our friendly team on 03 9533 7888.

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