In treating mental and substance use disorders, two forms of behavioral therapy have had great prominence for over 50 years. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy share a great deal, though they have some key differences. DBT emerged from CBT, and both of these behavioral therapy modalities have excellent track records in treating numerous mental health diagnoses and addiction.
At Pennsylvania Adult & Teen Challenge (PAATC), we have professional clinicians trained in DBT and others who use CBT. CBT is highly effective for treating anxiety and depression and a dual diagnosis when addiction co-occurs with those disorders. DBT is more useful for borderline personality, suicidal ideation, and trauma on their own or in conjunction with a substance use disorder. To learn more about the difference between CBT and DBT and how PAATC uses these modalities to treat addiction and co-occurring disorders, reach out today successfully. Complete our online form or call us at 844.442.8673.
A Brief History of Behavioral Therapy
The original behaviorists based their psychological treatments on the work of Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov who focused mainly on re-conditioning behaviors. His work was popularized by B.F. Skinner in the US in the late 1930s. Skinner learned that certain maladaptive responses could be eliminated by using positive feedback and rewards to shift behavior. His theories were very popular with clinicians through the mid-century.
The next significant development in behavioral therapy was cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), first created in the 1960s by Aaron Beck, a psychiatrist based at the University of Pennsylvania. An important modification of CBT techniques was the modality known as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), created in the late 1970s by Marsha Linehan, a psychologist at the University of Washington. These two related but different therapies have had enormous success in treating several disorders, including addiction.
CBT vs. DBT
Some of the fundamental differences between the two treatments are outlined below.
- Philosophical underpinnings – Using rationality and evidence to show how certain thoughts affect behaviors, CBT shifts behavior by highlighting how false or harmful beliefs play out in real-time. It redirects thoughts, while DBT is more based on emotions and relies heavily on mindfulness techniques. While DBT seeks to create feelings of safety, acceptance, and emotional regulation, CBT focuses on recognizing and changing negative thinking.
- The difference in focus – Practitioners of CBT focus on short-term cognitive goals, while DBT is more about validating emotions. DBT states that emotions are due to thinking patterns and lived experiences, such as past trauma.
- Relationships – DBT concentrates very intentionally on interpersonal connections and how emotionally charged relationships can trigger intense responses. CBT can focus on a particular relationship, but that is not as significant an underpinning of the therapy as in DBT.
- Time frame – DBT typically takes more time than CBT. CBT is a therapy of short duration, usually between 12 and 20 weeks of individual sessions. DBT is more involved and includes individual and group therapy sessions, skills training, and coaching calls.
- Group therapy – In CBT, individual sessions are standard though they work in a group therapy setting. For DBT, group therapy is a vital and fundamental aspect.
In many ways, the important question is not “DBT therapy vs. CBT” but “Do I need therapy to help me with my mental health and substance abuse?” As long as you reach out for help, you will be on the road to wellness. Let the skilled staff at PAATC work with you to determine if DBT or CBT will be the best therapy for you.
How PAATC Can Help
PAATC has a wide range of evidence-based therapies, like cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. We can help you find the program that works for you. Will that be inpatient or outpatient addiction therapy? Will family therapy be a part of your recovery? How can one of our cutting-edge behavioral therapies best help you?
Reach out today to have a reassuring and informative conversation with one of our compassionate and expert staff members. We are here to help. Call 844.442.8673 or use our online form, and someone will get back to you quickly.