Many people who see a therapist are dealing with anxiety, depression, or some other mental illness that is interfering with their life. They’re looking for ways to deal with the stress of everyday life. Because each person is different, there are various methods for delivering therapeutic services. CBT and DBT are two popular therapies used to treat mental illness. But what’s the difference between CBT vs DBT?
One example is a cognitive behavioral therapy program in Northern, VA that uses CBT to help reframe your thoughts so that you control your thoughts instead of them controlling you. Another example is DBT, or dialectical behavioral therapy, which enables you to interact with the environment in a healthier way instead of having extreme emotional reactions to things.
What is CBT?
CBT, or cognitive behavior therapy, is a strategy based on the idea that our thoughts create feelings, those feelings create behaviors, and the behaviors reinforce the original thoughts. For example, imagine you were to tell your therapist, “I’m a horrible mom. I can’t do anything right. My kids will grow up to hate me.” Those negative thoughts can lead to ongoing depression that will keep you down.
CBT helps you talk through your thoughts and feelings to understand what is making you behave as you do. It reframes your thoughts so that you can realize, “I’m not a bad mom. I make mistakes, too. My kids will learn valuable lessons if I model what to do when you make mistakes.” It turns the negative into a positive that you can control and take action on.
The typical steps of CBT include:
- Identify the troubling issues in your life
- Become aware of how you think and feel about these problems
- Recognize negative and inaccurate thoughts
- Work to reshape that thinking
What is DBT?
It was initially developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan between the late 1970s and 1980s as a way to treat suicidal patients and borderline personality disorder since there are often issues with emotional regulation and impulse control. When Dr. Linehan first tried CBT and then mindfulness with her patients, and both failed, she decided to combine parts of each approach, and DBT was born.
DBT, or dialectical behavior therapy, works better for those that might be depressed, but who act out in an emotional way that can potentially be harmful. It is more focused on the choices than the thoughts. A therapist helps you acknowledge and understand the things you are feeling, as well as learn how to replace the unhealthy impulses and harmful actions that stem from those feelings so that you can develop healthy coping mechanisms. It is skills-based, giving specific tools you can use to cope with stressors.
There are four strategies used with DBT. They include:
- Mindfulness – being present in the moment and recognizing emotions. Mindfulness can help boost your recovery
- Emotional Regulation – dealing with unpleasant situations by creating pleasant alternatives that can help protect against emotional extremes. Alternatives such as getting enough sleep and avoiding harmful habits
- Interpersonal Effectiveness – learning to interact appropriately with others, especially those who may be a trigger for you
- Distress Tolerance – learning to recognize and control the desire to do something ineffective, such as self-harm
CBT vs DBT: Comparing the Two
CBT and DBT are used for different reasons, often because they are proven to work better on a particular mental illness than the other. Here are some ways to know which to use when it comes to CBT vs DBT.
- Anxiety and depression are often treated successfully with CBT, while borderline personality and suicidal tendencies are better treated with a dialectical behavioral therapy program.
- CBT looks at the relationship between your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. While DBT adds an emphasis on regulating emotions, being mindful, acceptance.
- CBT focuses on reasoning, helping you to see things from a more logical, factual point of view. DBT relies on mindfulness techniques to learn to accept rather than change things and to regulate the emotions involved.
The Bottom Line is Getting Help
No matter which type of addiction therapy services you decide is right for you, it’s essential to recognize that you need help and start the process of treatment. At Sagebrush, we can help. Call us at 866.488.1156 to learn more about our programs and how we can help you on the road to recovery. You don’t have to suffer alone.