Dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT)

Do you find yourself constantly at the mercy of your emotions? Are you often overwhelmed by anxiety, stress or sadness? Have these feelings led to substance abuse and addiction? If so, dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) could be the life-changing solution you need to overcome your addiction and find inner peace. DBT at Recovery Lighthouse offers a refreshing approach as part of a wider programme that prioritises mindfulness, emotion regulation and interpersonal skills training to help you achieve lasting recovery.

DBT - therapy session

What is DBT?

DBT is a type of psychotherapy originally developed to treat individuals with borderline personality disorder. Today, DBT has become an increasingly popular form of therapy in addiction treatment as well, due to its success in helping individuals manage intense emotions and learn new coping skills.

DBT for addiction is grounded in the belief that change is possible, but it requires a balance of acceptance and change. DBT aims to help you accept yourself, your circumstances and your emotions, while also working to change negative patterns of thinking and behaviour.

DBT and addiction treatment

DBT is particularly useful in addiction treatment because of its focus on our thoughts and feelings, and how they influence actions. This connection is at the centre of any addiction, and so learning how to manage your thoughts and feelings can essentially break the cycle of addiction.

DBT for addiction does this via four separate modules:


The mindfulness module is focused on cultivating present-moment awareness and non-judgmental acceptance of one’s experiences. This module teaches you to pay attention to your thoughts, feelings and sensations without becoming overwhelmed by them. Mindfulness practice can help you to develop the skills you need to stay grounded and focused in the present moment, even when experiencing strong emotions.

Emotion regulation…

The emotion regulation module is designed to help you identify, understand and manage intense emotions. This module teaches strategies to regulate emotions in healthy ways, such as identifying and changing negative thought patterns, practising self-compassion and engaging in activities that promote positive emotions.

Distress tolerance…

The distress tolerance module focuses on developing techniques to cope with crisis situations and stress without resorting to harmful behaviours. This module teaches you how to tolerate distressing emotions and situations without reacting impulsively or turning to drugs or alcohol.

Interpersonal effectiveness…

The interpersonal effectiveness module is based on effective communication and interpersonal skills to build healthy relationships. This module teaches you to express your needs and boundaries in a clear and assertive way, while also being able to listen and respond to others’ needs and boundaries.

DBT - therapy session 2

DBT and your success

DBT can be a powerful tool in addiction treatment, but like any form of therapy, it requires effort and commitment in order to be successful. To make the most out of your DBT experience, you should:

  • Be open and honest: DBT for addiction relies on a strong therapeutic relationship between you and your therapist. To get the most out of DBT, it’s important to be open and honest with your therapist about your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. This will help your therapist tailor the treatment to your specific needs and help you achieve your goals.
  • Practice outside of therapy: DBT for addiction involves practising new skills and techniques outside of therapy sessions, including mindfulness meditation or other techniques. By practising these skills in your daily life, you’ll be better prepared to cope with difficult situations and manage your emotions.
  • Be patient with yourself: DBT is a process, and it takes time to see results. It’s important to be patient with yourself and recognise that change doesn’t happen overnight. Celebrate small successes along the way, and keep your long-term goals in mind.
  • Attend all sessions: Consistency is key in DBT for addiction. It’s important to attend all therapy sessions and to complete any homework or assignments given by your therapist. This will help you stay on track and make progress towards your goals.
  • Seek support: DBT can be challenging at times, so it’s important to have a support system in place. This might include reaching out to loved ones or others in recovery for support. By surrounding yourself with supportive people, you’ll be better equipped to face challenges and stay on track in your recovery.

By committing to the DBT process, you can achieve success in addiction recovery and build the skills you need to live a healthy and fulfilling life.

The next step

Beyond just the practical tools it offers, DBT is also a journey of self-discovery and growth. It is an opportunity to learn more about your inner self, your emotions and how you interact with the world around you. DBT can empower you to take control of your life and your recovery, and can help you to create a new narrative that is filled with hope for the future.

If you are ready to take that first step towards a brighter future and embrace the transformative power of DBT, give our team a call today. We are proud to offer DBT as part of our rehab treatment programme alongside a wide variety of proven therapies.

Frequently asked questions

What are the pros and cons of DBT?
The pros of DBT certainly outnumber any cons. While it does hold the potential to be uncomfortable and emotional at times, the benefits seen are vast. Through DBT, you will learn how to control your responses to situations, regulate your emotions and develop strong communication skills.
What addiction is best treated with DBT?
DBT can be beneficial for all types of addiction, including drug, alcohol and behavioural addictions such as gambling or sex addiction. Its effectiveness and versatility mean that DBT is used in rehab centres around the world.
Does DBT help to treat co-occurring mental health issues?
Yes, DBT can be effective in treating co-occurring mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and PTSD. In addition to its focus on addiction treatment, DBT includes strategies to help you manage mental health symptoms, develop healthy coping mechanisms and improve your overall well-being.