Amazing Transformational Changes
At Free by the Sea, we’ve seen remarkable changes in people who have received Dialectical Behavior Therapy. This blog post explores Dialectical Behavior Therapy, what it is, how it works, and what the keys to success in this transformational form of addiction treatment are.
Cognitive Behavioral Treatment
As a technique for therapeutic treatment of addiction, Dialectic Behavior Therapy is a cognitive behavioral approach that has been shown to work phenomenally well because it enables a process of self-discovery whereby the individual identifies truths about themselves in a supportive and metaphysically neutral environment where they are provided with counter-narratives and intersubjective tough love, designed to rebuild emotional self-management skills, interpersonal adaptation, and distress processing capabilities that will help to support them through the various stages of overcoming their addiction.
The Dialectic Idea
The dialectic idea in Dialectic Behavior Therapy emerges from the Platonic tradition of a dialogue between two different mindful individuals with different points of view who want to establish the truth about a subject. The classical Greek philosopher, Plato, made the word “dialectic” popular over two thousand years ago to describe this method of resolving disagreement between two individuals and as a very particular technique of dialogue that was captured in Plato’s Socratic Dialogues.
The mindfulness required on the part of participants in Plato’s dialectics exemplifies the underlying rational mindful behavioral skill set inculcated in clients in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which is mindfulness itself, the practice of being and the capacity to be more fully aware and present in this one moment, which is the number one behavioral skill required in battling addiction.
Acceptance and Change
The term “dialectical” now has come to mean a synthesis or integration of opposites, which is an approach to the process of acceptance and change that an addict must go through to adapt to a whole new system of self-management and mindfulness. Mindfulness is required to accept and change so that a client can develop the other three top-level cognitive behavior skills that Dialectical Behavior Therapy can instill, and thus help an addict use in their everyday life to learn and master as they go through their process of overcoming their addiction. These other top level skills for successful coping include a more expansive distress response tolerance capacity for pain or disappointment, enhanced interpersonal effectiveness in social relations for more gratification and a higher quality of life, empowered emotional intelligence, and a living and learning self-healing capacity designed to manage one’s emotions intelligently and rationally for proper emotional self-regulation.
Enhancing Individual Motivations
Just as Socrates in his dialectical dialogues brought his co-participants to accept and change their views of the world, the therapist in the Dialectic Behavior Therapy treatment approach applies an empathetic screen which creates conditions for self-acceptance with the client.
Research has shown that Dialectic Behavior Therapy is effective in treating substance dependence because it focusses on enhancing individual motivations and helping clients to apply new cognitive behavior skills to specific challenges and events in their lives. Addicts are compulsively capable of avoiding the truth, a behavior which forms the core component of an addictive lifestyle, so that anyone outside of their lifestyle, a family member perhaps or a loved one, who can quite clearly see the “truth” of what’s going on in an addicted person’s life, at the same time at a certain level can’t possibly understand how the addict successfully hides this same truth from themselves.
Unique System of Therapy
Dialectical Behavior Therapy as a system of therapy is one of the most successful forms of treatment in addressing the issues of addiction and substance dependence, more so than other treatment approaches, in part because it forms an alliance between the addict and the therapist, not an adversarial relationship, so that the addicted individual discovers the truth of their response to maladaptive emotional self-regulation and distress management behaviors thanks to a climate of unconditional metaphysically neutral acceptance.
Unconditionally Supportive Environment
Beyond enhancing a client’s life-skill capabilities through teaching them behavioral skills in an unconditionally supportive environment bounded by intersubjective tough love, the concept of dialectics emerged from the idea of striving to provide a reliable counter-narrative to the themes of addiction that may interject themselves into the patient’s mental landscape as the patient progressively views the therapist less and less as an adversary, and more and more as an ally who, by accepting and validating the patient’s feelings, can also enable a level of personal trust, enough so that the therapist can inform the client that certain behaviors and feeling are unproductive, retrogressive and maladaptive.
The Metaphysical Wall
Most addicts, in creating their addiction lifestyle, also simultaneously, and sometimes quite ingeniously, build a set of mental barriers that block out mental stimuli and points of view that could otherwise change their thinking and their views about their addictive behavior, including any perspectives that may appear biased against their addictive personality disorder.
It is this idea of a mental wall or barrier that the addict creates in their mind and builds in their relationships that ultimately blocks continuous connections of care between you and your loved one. It’s a metaphysical wall that the individual who is displaying addictive behavior puts up to justify an addictive attitude instead of being mindful in the present moment to other stimuli. Mindfulness is the sense of awareness of the present moment, that is accompanied by tranquility and openness, a receptivity to life that does not tunnel vision in on an addictive substance but that is instead characterized by openness, receptiveness, management of emotions and distress symptoms, and a balanced perspective on interpersonal relationships.
Loving Kindness Removed From Distractions
A dialectical approach as exemplified by Dialectic Behavior Therapy is based on a core condition of acceptance and change through the principle of dialectical progress that is only possible in a climate of loving, kindness and neutral unconditional acceptance. At Free By The Sea, the therapist and patient discuss issues that come up around interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, or emotional regulation in an atmosphere that is removed from the physical and mental landscape of the people, places, and things associated with your loved one’s addictions, and thus by reducing these distractions, our therapists are able to give our clients the opportunity to fully engage in the treatment process for optimal outcomes.
Emotionally Dysfunctional Lifestyle
Oftentimes with an addict, the ability to connect, and to maintain a connection, is subverted by physical dependence, but just as often as not it is disengaged by a mental dependence on a self-validating but emotionally dysfunctional lifestyle, where the inability to be mindfully in the moment triggers the mental and physical urges for a substance.
At Free By the Sea, We Help Addicts
Contact us now to learn more about Free by the Sea, and how we help addicts learn the coping skills they will need to begin a new life free from addiction, and how the Dialetical Behavior Therapy approach empowers a connection to occur between treatment practitioner and patient that multiplies positive outcome possibilities.
Choose to learn more about ending substance abuse! Find out more about program options from Free by the Sea today.
Dr. Richard Crabbe joined our team in 2019 as our psychiatrist and medical director. He attended the University of Ghana Medical School where he became a Medical Doctor in 1977. From 1978 through 1984, he was a medical officer in the Ghana Navy and provided a variety of services from general medicine to surgeries. He received his Certificate in General Psychology from the American Board of Psychology and Neurology in 2002.