Both Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) are two effective psychotherapy treatments that can treat various mental health issues. While they share many similarities, understanding the differences is essential to determine which treatment will benefit your recovery in certain situations. Let’s examine both CBT and DBT, what each one is and how these forms of therapy treat certain mental health disorders. We will also explore why certain aspects could be more beneficial depending on your mental health disorder and recovery needs.
What is CBT?
CBT is an evidence-based treatment that examines the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Essentially, this therapy believes that life isn’t a sum of what happens to you but instead what you think happens to you. Therefore, CBT focuses on changing negative beliefs and behaviors, and in doing so, you will begin to feel better. CBT is typically short-term treatment lasting between 6-10 sessions and tends to be direct and collaborative. Most sessions happen weekly and rely on assigning patients homework to reinforce skills between therapy sessions. CBT is effective in treating:
- Social anxiety
- Panic disorders
- Negative thoughts and feelings of hopelessness
- Relationship problems
- Low self-esteem
- Substance use
CBT can also work in conjunction with other therapeutic modalities, like EMDR, person-centered therapy, or family therapy.
CBT often involves a series of questions to help incite and recognize thoughts and behaviors following a traumatic experience. Such questions aim to address and replace thoughts concerning what happened, the feelings resulting from those thoughts, and how they have affected your beliefs. The answers you provide help you and your therapist understands any patterns and triggers in your life and then work together to replace these thoughts with positive reinforcement thoughts.
For example, maybe you feel anxious or frustrated after attending certain social events, and maybe in the past, you coped with drinking. Now that you’re in recovery, you understand that drinking is not an option; therefore, coping without using substances might be challenging. CBT helps strengthen your insight into certain habits and cycles and, thus, gives you more power to change them.
What is DBT?
DBT is a somewhat modified form of CBT and can be effective if you struggle with suicidal or self-harm thoughts. DBT commonly treats borderline personality disorder. DBT often includes both individual and group settings. Each component focus on strengthening self-awareness while teaching practical life skills. DBT can also aid in helping:
- Eating disorders
- Substance abuse
- Early trauma
- Relationship problems
- Attachment issues
DBT focuses on strengthening the relationships you have with other people. In DBT, you will work on techniques related to building self-respect, asserting your needs, and asking for help. If you participate in DBT therapy, expect to participate in individual weekly and group therapy sessions. Much like CBT, you will have homework to practice skills. Learned skills will help you regulate emotions and better cope with stressful situations.
Similarities and Differences Between CBT and DBT
Both CBT and DBT involve learning how thoughts affect feelings and behaviors in the present rather than exploring things from the past. They also work to help you overcome and replace negative beliefs you have about yourself and others. DBT emphasizes accepting uncomfortable feelings or thoughts and could last for up to 12 months. However, CBT is often short-term treatment with a specific goal in mind that involves meeting one-on-one with a therapist. DBT has a broader focus and involves regular meetings with a therapist and group skills sessions and contact with therapists between sessions.
Both forms of therapy work toward identifying and modifying self-defeating thought patterns. They also each involve homework between sessions to work on the skills learned in each session. Perhaps the most significant difference is that DBT is more structured in that each individual will learn four skill modules which include:
- Emotional regulation
- Distress tolerance
- Interpersonal effectiveness
Every individual and their recovery needs are different, and they will at times face particular challenges that seem unique and insurmountable. However, both CBT and DBT can significantly improve mental health when you commit to treatment. While CBT and DBT treat a wide array of mental health disorders, different forms of mental health disorders may respond differently to each treatment technique.
Remember that you can work with your therapist to try using a different method if you are not responding to a particular treatment. The best approach to determining whether CBT or DBT is the best option for you is by talking with your doctor or therapist trained to treat your diagnosis.
Seeking the proper treatment for a mental health disorder can be both challenging and intimidating. At Choice House, we provide qualified staff and comfortable and safe settings where you can focus on addressing and treating your mental health disorders. Our team will help you discover the most effective treatment program that suits your needs; this includes CBT, DBT, and other therapeutic practices. We also take both a conventional and alternative approach to treatment because we believe that treatment is not one-size-fits-all. Our staff and the peers you will meet will also help you establish strong support networks and lasting bonds. With a beautiful Colorado backdrop, you will never be short of inspiration. We offer 24/7 admissions to meet you wherever you’re at in your recovery and at any time. Remember, your recovery always comes first. To begin your recovery adventure, reach out to Choice House today by calling us at (720) 577-4422.