Using DBT in addiction recovery 

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy can help you to be balanced in both your decisions and your emotions. It is a form of talking therapy that was originally devised by an American Psychologist called Marsha Linehan, as a result of her own serious mental health issues.

Experience has taught that delivering training in DBT alongside 12 step programmes in addiction treatment has been very positive. Clients have mostly been enthusiastic about DBT skills training describing, it as “inspiring and informative” and often asking for “more” and “referrals” for when they leave treatment.

The goal of DBT is to help people have increasing control over their thoughts, feelings and behaviours.  Unhealthy thinking patterns can easily overwhelm someone who is battling an addiction of some sort, to the extent that they become overwhelming and over-powerful, influencing a person’s feelings and behavioural urges.

So DBT includes the practice of mindfulness, to help you learn how to “quieten” your mind and to have more control over what happens as a result of a “thought.” If you can learn the skill of “noticing” what thoughts you are having as if you are separate from your thoughts, then you might be able to have greater choice over what happens next.

Try this short exercise...

Focus on your breath for a few minutes, noticing the air that you breathe in and out... the temperature of the air, its texture, what you imagine when you observe this air...

Imagine that you are sitting on a deckchair by the sea on a calm and pleasant day in early summer.  You are warm and comfortable in your clothing and as you look ahead you see large waves, slowly rolling into the shore and gently breaking onto the beach...

Now either close your eyes and see where your mind takes you as you sit in the deckchair by the sea or write a story about what happens next...

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Written by Claire Sainsbury

Claire Sainsbury is an integrative counsellor & coach with a special interest in helping people change unhealthy life habits to promote a better quality of living.… Read more

Written by Claire Sainsbury

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