The Difference Between CBT and DBT

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Behavior therapy focuses on changing behavior. Research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)  shows behavior therapy effectively treats individuals with substance use disorder (SUD) and mental health conditions. Experts divide behavior therapies into two main factions: Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). CBT focuses on altering thoughts and beliefs that create or maintain problematic behaviors. In comparison, DBT focuses on managing emotions and coping skills to decrease the impact of problematic behaviors.

CBT and DBT Are Evidence-Based Practices

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration emphasize the effectiveness of evidence-based practices to treat SUDs. Both CBT and DBT fall under the umbrella of evidence-based practices. This matters because evidence-based practices have been evaluated by researchers for their effectiveness based on scientific findings. The more evidence a treatment holds, the more likely it is to be successful.  As such, participants can consider both of these behavior therapies as reliable treatment options.

What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

CBT aims to change the thoughts and beliefs that can create or maintain problematic behaviors. Research reveals that CBT proves effective in the treatment of depression, anxiety, SUD, and OCD. In addition, CBT teaches participants how to manage their emotional problems by identifying triggers, increasing self-motivation, and focusing on conflict resolution.

Individuals struggling with negative thinking or stressful thoughts can benefit from CBT. It helps individuals with SUD identify how a personal pattern of negative thoughts, feelings, and actions fuels their addictive behavior. Clients are encouraged to use mindfulness to replace harmful thoughts with positive ones, take control of their emotions, and take steps toward change.

What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?

DBT offers both skills training and psychoeducation. It’s common for therapists to use DBT in the treatment of SUD. Tools like dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) can help clients change behavior patterns instead of talking through issues. DBT helps with the following aspects of behavioral health:

  • Getting unstuck from unhelpful and dysfunctional thinking and behavior patterns regarding the self
  • Developing new and more realistic coping skills
  • Working on emotional regulation, self-awareness, and other facets of emotional well-being

The Different Therapy Philosophies Between CBT and DBT

DBT and CBT both focus on behavior modification, but in a different way.

DBT primarily focuses on using mindfulness to improve emotional regulation. Through mindfulness practices, clients learn to accept experiences or emotions as they arise without judgment. Often, these therapy sessions incorporate mindfulness practices like meditation.  As a result, participants will gain the ability to cope with challenging feelings or situations like stress or conflict. They will recognize their automatic responses and intervene before they respond impulsively.

CBT  focuses on using critical thinking to identify distorted thoughts and false assumptions about a person’s condition or current circumstances. For instance, the person struggling with anxiety or depression can use CBT skills to shift their focus from feelings of inadequacy, despair, or failure to face the facts of their situations. With such a shift in thinking, they can make positive changes in their lives by increasing motivation.

Using CBT And DBT to Treat SUD and Mental Health Conditions

Substance use disorders and mental health conditions often occur together.  For many people, substance use disorders and mental health conditions go hand-in-hand. In fact, they co-occur with surprising frequency, and these conditions are referred to as “dual diagnosis.”
The National Institute on Drug Abuse lists the following as some of the co-occurring mental health issues that often coincide with SUD:

  • ADHD
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Borderline Personality

When left untreated, individuals with mental health conditions find themselves vulnerable to using, drinking, or relapsing.  Often, they return to using or drinking to find relief from the symptoms of mental illness. Evidence-based proves very effective in treating dual diagnoses. For instance:
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)  proves very effective in treating trauma. Experts consider CBT as an evidence-based treatment for PTSD. Many individuals with a SUD turned to using substances to escape their past traumas. To prevent relapse, we find it important to deal with their distorted beliefs and maladaptive behavioral patterns related to traumas. Once they can process their emotions and replace their maladaptive behavioral patterns with positive actions, trauma no longer dominants their lives or recovery journey.
Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) helps participants identify problematic behaviors and understand how to change them. It proves very effective with personality disorders like Borderline Personality Disorder. Participants learn to shift their beliefs, see situations more positively, express anxiety in healthy ways, and manage difficult emotions. Then, these individuals will experience improved motivation for healthy living and a reduction of dysfunctional behavior.

Restoration Recovery Supports CBT And DBT for Treatment

Restoration Recovery Center cultivates a nurturing environment that enhances the experience and outcomes of behavior therapy. We provide a variety of behavioral therapies, including CBT and DBT. The benefits of our treatments include:

  • Fostering the development of interpersonal awareness
  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Budding personal growth
  • Development of your social skills and coping skills
  • Learning and maintaining accountability
  • Becoming aware of your internal motivations

Cognitive behavior therapy and dialectic behavior therapy are both effective methods for treating mental health conditions and SUD. Both therapies identify, understand, and change problematic thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and beliefs.  Yet, there are differences between the two, and participants should consider which type of therapy best meets their needs and concerns.  Cognitive behavior therapy focuses on the change in thoughts, feelings, and behaviors caused by depressive episodes. This approach uses the principles of behavioral psychology to reduce negative moods and relieve symptoms of depression.  Dialectical behavior therapy is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on changing both behaviors via new skills.  Restoration Recovery Center’s mission is to provide the best rehabilitative services to our clients to improve their quality of life and reduce the likelihood of relapse. Our therapists take a person-centered approach when providing CBT or DBT to participants. To learn more about our services, contact us at (888) 290-0925.

Our therapies entail digging deep, peeling the onion of your life,  and making choices that are consistent with your values.

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