When looking for treatment for an addiction or mental health problem, you or your loved one will likely come across a long list of treatment programs and drug addiction therapy options. It may feel like a bit of a daunting task to learn about all of them, but learning about therapies like dialectical behavioral therapy can prove to be helpful when deciding where to go for treatment.

What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

Dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT, is a form of psychotherapy treatment that can be used to help with a number of problems including borderline personality disorder, suicidal behavior, substance use disorder, bipolar disorder, binge eating, depression, anxiety, and more.

DBT therapy evolved from Dr. Marsha Linehan’s psychiatry treatment she created to help suicidal women. Her efforts looked at treatments for various problems and interventions that directly targeted suicidal behavior and also weaved in acceptance modalities so that clients wouldn’t feel attacked or threatened during these sessions.

Studies have shown that DBT is an effective form of treatment for borderline personality disorder and other related issues such as substance use disorder.

Let’s take a closer look at what you might expect during dialectical behavior therapy Los Angeles.

Types of DBT

When it comes to receiving DBT therapy, there are numerous different techniques employed by treatment professionals, depending on you or your loved one’s situation. We’ll briefly go over some of these techniques of DBT, but first let’s take a look at how DBT therapy is given to clients.

Individual DBT Therapy

Dialectical behavioral therapy is often done in a one-on-one setting with the client and the DBT therapist. This allows there to be no outside influence or interruptions during these sessions.

DBT Group Therapy

Along with individual therapies, DBT can be performed in group sessions in which the clinician works with several clients at the same time to work to change client behavior, thought processes, and avoid problems in the future through various group skills training exercises.

Online DBT Therapy

With the emergence of technology in recent decades, it is no longer difficult for clients to receive their DBT treatment over the internet or even for phone coaching. Professional clinicians can work with their clients to achieve the goals set forth by DBT depending on the client’s situation.

Now that we better understand how treatment can be delivered, let’s work to understand the techniques used during DBT and the DBT skills clients work to develop during these sessions.

4 Goals of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

When it comes to dialectical behavioral therapy, there are a number of goals and positive effects that clinicians are looking to see within their clients.

Enhance New Skills

One of the main and primary functions of DBT therapy is to improve and enhance life skills that will be conducive with their day-to-day recovery. Some of the common skills focused during these sessions include emotional regulation, mindfulness skills, interpersonal effectiveness skills, self-respect and improving overall quality of life.

Ensure Change

The second function is a byproduct of the first. The goal of skills training for things like emotion regulation is to be able to apply them to a client’s day-to-day life. During sessions, clinicians will work with their clients to ensure that what they are being taught is being applied. There are often homework assignments, dairy cards, and troubleshooting to ensure that change does occur.

Reduce Dysfunctional Behavior

Oftentimes, people receiving DBT treatment will have various behavioral issues that can interfere with their long- and short-term success. These therapy sessions work to address and overcome issues such as suicidal ideation, self-injurious behavior, and emotional distress. Clients and clinicians work to learn what led to this behavior and develop strategies to address them when they come up outside of the therapists’ office.

Alter the Environment

A fourth major function of DBT is to make changes to a client’s environment so as to be conducive with their change and successes. For example, if a client is dealing with substance abuse disorder, they may need to change who they are friends with so they can avoid social circles that promote drug or alcohol use.

When you engage with a course of dialectical behavior therapy Los Angeles, you participate in module-based sessions based on the following strategies and techniques:

  • Interpersonal effectiveness: DBT sessions will help you improve your behavior and communication, highly beneficial in your interpersonal relationships.
  • Mindfulness: By focusing more fully on the present moment instead of worrying about the uncertainty of the future or stressing over the past, you can embrace your recovery journey every step of the way.
  • Emotion regulation: The clearer your grasp of the way your emotions function, the more easily you can avoid acting on impulse, and the more easily you will sidestep being governed by your emotions.
  • Distress tolerance: Dialectical behavioral therapy will equip you with more robust distress tolerance skills. This can be invaluable when coping with the volatile emotions associated with recovery, minimizing your chances of relapse.

Benefits of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Now that we have a better understanding of what dialectical behavioral therapy actually is and some of the goals it sets out to accomplish for clients, you may be wondering how effective this form of treatment actually is and what it can help with.

Multiple clinical studies have found that DBT is an effective form of treatment and can help with numerous problems, including:

  •   Self-harm and suicidal behavior
  •   Borderline personality disorder
  •   Substance use disorder
  •   Binge eating disorders and more

It is worth noting that DBT can be an effective treatment for clients with a substance use disorder but cannot be used solely to treat this disease. For best results, clients must be exposed to a variety of different alcohol and drug addiction therapies, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), medication-assisted treatment, dual diagnosis treatment, and more.

Here is a summary of the leading benefits of dialectical behavioral therapy:

  1. Encourages you to build healthy social relationships from scratch
  2. Helps you to more appropriately deal with anger
  3. Improves overall quality of life
  4. Strengthens interpersonal relationships
  5. Allows you to better cope with life’s everyday stressors
  6. Delivers many real-world skills applicable in situations beyond addiction and mental health
  7. Intensifies your mindfulness skills
  8. Promotes a sense of healthy acceptance
  9. Provides a ready-made support network
  10.   Works well for treating suicidal ideation and self-harm as well as addiction and mental health disorders


Dialectical behavioral therapy is a distinct form of cognitive behavioral therapy. As such, DBT shares many characteristics with CBT.

These two types of psychotherapy also differ in many important ways.

CBT helps you to closely examine the closely interrelated nature of your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. DBT lightly touches on these areas, but focuses primarily on mindfulness, acceptance of pain, and emotional regulation.

CBT can be more effective for treating depression than any other form of therapy, including DBT. CBT is also applicable to a range of mental health disorders, such as:

  •   PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
  •   Panic disorders
  •   Sleep disorders
  •   Anxiety disorders

Originally developed to treat the symptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD), dialectical behavioral therapy is now used to treat self-harm and the trauma caused by sexual abuse, as well as BPD and other mental health conditions.

DBT draws strongly from the mindfulness component of Zen Buddhism. Rather than forcing change, dialectical behavior therapy sessions will instead help you sharpen your acceptance of things you are powerless to influence. CBT, by contrast, is grounded on logic and reasoning, helping you to deal with situations more objectively and less emotionally. 

Some people benefit from both forms of psychotherapy, but the majority choose to engage with either DBT or CBT in isolation. Every substance use disorder and every mental health condition are different, so all treatment should be personalized accordingly. Liaise closely with your treatment provider to establish whether DBT or CBT would make the smoothest fit.

Finding DBT in CaliforniaMan in DBT

If you are searching for dialectical behavioral therapy, you may be looking for help in California. Whether you are looking for DBT in Los Angeles or DBT in Orange County, or somewhere else in the state, there are a number of tools and resources at your disposal to help you find the perfect treatment center near you for your situation, including DBT therapy Orange County.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy Inpatient Facilities

Depending on the individual needs of the person some clients find that a dialectical behavior therapy in an inpatient facility is best to receive the full comprehensive treatment experience in an environment that is monitored and staffed so you can focus solely on your recovery. Those in inpatient facilities stay at the facility during treatment where they will receive therapies, treatments, and other evidence based practices to bolster their life skills, coping mechanisms, and prepare themselves to live a life of mental wellness and recovery. For many people though it is not necessary to stay in a residential facility often times people only need therapy on a part time basis which is more in line with outpatient options.

California Outpatient DBT Therapy

Outpatient DBT therapy allows clients more flexibility and be able to live in their own homes while seeking treatment part time. While Inpatient is very much a full time job of focusing on recovery. Outpatient is a part time option, so clients can receive therapy and behavioral treatment while still taking part in their daily lives of work, school, family, relationships and hobbies. Outpatient therapy will usually involve meeting with your therapist on a scheduled time and day which varies depending on your individual need. That way you can still focus on recovery and not have to put your life on hold.

The District Recovery Community: DBT Near Me

If you need help with your search for a DBT recovery center near you, The District is here to help. At The District Recovery Community, we have connections with numerous addiction recovery organizations all around Orange County to be able to provide clients with whatever they need in their journey to long-term sobriety.

If you or a loved one is dealing with a drug abuse or alcohol addiction problem, our services can help you find comprehensive addiction treatment to help overcome these issues. Please give us a call today at 844-287-8506 to learn more about how we can help you and what a personalized treatment plan may look like for you or your loved one at our DBT center Los Angeles.