Addiction is a life-changing and debilitating disease that can damage one’s health, relationships, career, finances, and more. In addition to the negative physical changes and symptoms that people experience as their drug use worsens, their mental health may also suffer. And while addiction is treatable, treatment isn’t linear. Because everyone is different, treatment methods should be adapted to an individual’s needs. This is something we strive for at our Pennsylvania rehab, and to offer our clients individualized care, we incorporate modalities like our dialectical behavior therapy for substance abusers.

What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Addiction?

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a psychological treatment approach that focuses on recognizing negative emotions and how to regulate them, especially as they relate to the individual’s substance abuse. DBT therapy sessions at our Pennsylvania drug rehab are conducted both in individual and group settings with trained therapists.

While individual sessions allow clients to work one-on-one with therapists in a safe and private setting, group sessions grant patients the opportunity to learn from and connect with others who are also in addiction recovery and may be struggling with the same issues. Clients who complete this form of psychotherapy will develop the DBT skills for addiction recovery needed to recognize their feelings healthily.

Our dialectical behavior therapy for substance abusers is multidimensional and relies on learning skills to change negative or unhelpful thoughts and behaviors. Therapists using this form of psychotherapy teach clients DBT skills for addiction recovery by modeling, providing instructions, telling stories, role-playing, giving feedback, and coaching. The main strategies used by therapists in dialectical behavior therapy for substance abusers include mindfulness development, interpersonal effectiveness, emotional regulations, and distress tolerance.

What to Expect in DBT Therapy

Clients in DBT therapy can expect to undergo individual therapy, group skills training, phone coaching, and consultation from our therapists. During individual therapy sessions, clients learn how to utilize their new skills in daily life situations. In group therapy, they may work on developing new and healthy coping mechanisms.

Our therapists and counselors strive to provide a supportive and positive environment for clients during group therapy sessions. Outside of groups, we encourage clients to apply their skills to daily life.

Phone coaching is another skill utilized in DBT for in-the-moment assistance when clients find themselves in difficult situations between sessions. Clients can call their therapists to receive any support or advice when they need it most.

Patients receiving DBT for addiction treatment can also expect to be supported and validated by our therapists. To do this, our therapist consultation team meets regularly to help fellow therapists problem-solve and implement effective treatment methods in challenging situations – such as in cases when the individual has gone to rehab several times or frequently misses sessions.

DBT Drug Addiction Treatment

While there is no conclusive evidence that DBT helps to treat a stand-alone drug or alcohol use disorder, studies indicate that DBT can be an effective component in an addiction care plan for individuals with SUD and co-occurring mental health disorders such as depression or borderline personality disorder (BPD).1

In one study of women with borderline personality disorder and co-occurring drug use disorders, women who received DBT showed reductions in substance abuse during a year of treatment and in the 4-month follow-up. The same women also dropped out of treatment less often than those who did not receive DBT treatment for addiction.2 With that said, DBT could help you or a loved one overcome addiction and progress in recovery.

For more information about how our DBT works or other forms of addiction treatment in Pennsylvania, contact Clearbrook Treatment Centers today.

Not all programs available at all locations. Please contact the location for availability.



  1. Addiction Science & Clinical Practice – Does an adapted Dialectical Behaviour Therapy skills training program result in positive outcomes for participants with a dual diagnosis? A mixed-methods study


Related Reading:

DBT vs. CBT: How Are They Different?

How to Help a Friend With Addiction Recovery