For those who are looking for effective drug treatment programs for themselves or a loved one who are struggling with substance abuse, finding a rehab facility with a wide variety of proven therapy options is a must. Therapy is essential in helping those struggling with addiction address the root causes that have kept them stuck in drug and alcohol addiction. With the help of experienced therapists, newly recovering addicts can receive the tools and support they need to overcome those underlying issues and find much needed mental and emotional stability

The most common and effective form of therapy used in drug rehabs nationwide is psychotherapy. Also known as talk therapy, psychotherapy is a therapeutic process focused on helping people heal and allows them to learn more constructive ways to deal with the problems or issues in their lives. Within psychotherapy, there are many variations that therapists can put into practice, and the two most popular are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Despite coming from the same “family”, there are differences between CBT and DBT that must be understood–especially in regards to how they can be used in drug treatment.


If you are unfamiliar with both cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy, it will be helpful to get a basic grasp of the underlying concepts of each therapy type. Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on exploring relationships among a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors. CBT is solution-focused and helps clients solve problems and build the necessary learning skills needed to identify maladaptive attitudes and behaviors, correct them, and incorporate new and healthy coping skills.

DBT definition- Dialectical behavior therapy is a specific form of cognitive-behavioral therapy emphasizes the psychosocial aspects of treatment and how a person interacts with others in different environments and relationships. The theory behind DBT is that some people are prone to react in a more intense manner toward certain emotional situations, primarily those found in romantic, family and friend relationships–all of which can have significant impacts in the development of a drug and alcohol addiction.

dbt vs cbt

What are the Differences Between CBT and DBT?

There are fundamental differences between cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectic behavioral therapy, especially in their application in drug treatment and other therapy situations. First and foremost, CBT and DBT differ in the type of client it best serves, DBT was created for use in those people that suffered from borderline personality disorder and for those who are chronically suicidal. While DBT is now used to help people who suffer from a wide range of mental illnesses, most people who are treated with DBT have borderline personality disorder as a primary diagnosis.

On the other hand, CBT can be used for clients who may be experiencing a full range of mental issues that are non-psychotic in nature. In addition to its use in addiction treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy can be used in the treatment of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder among others.

Another difference between CBT and DBT is the role the therapist takes in working with clients. With dialectical behavioral therapy, the therapist strives to help clients find a balance between acceptance and change. In DBT, the therapist takes on the role of an ally whereas the relationship between therapist and client in CBT is more of a teacher and student. With CBT, that ‘teacher-student” relationship is more directive while in a DBT setting the therapist takes on the role of nurturer.

There are also differences between the two therapies in regards to how it is practiced. While CBT and DBT involve individual sessions that take place on a weekly basis, DBT sessions also involve a group therapy component. Within a group therapy format, therapists will help build skills based on four different “modules”:

  • Mindfulness–allows clients to have full awareness and acceptance of their current situation.
  • Effective Interpersonal Skills–teaches clients assertiveness, effective communication skills, and conflict resolution skills.
  • Distress Endurance and Tolerance–therapists helps clients cultivate techniques that will help them come through crisis situations and accept reality.
  • Emotion regulation–help reduce emotional vulnerability and help clients handle emotional episodes in a healthy manner.

A group setting is seen as an ideal place to learn and practice these skills because it offers a safe and supportive environment.

Additionally, CBT and DBT differ in the ways in which individual belief systems are identified. As alluded to in the previous point, DBT places more focus on a more immediate acceptance of their current situation and what measures can be taken to cultivate healthy coping skills. In CBT, therapists seek to identify the origins of negative and automatic thoughts. These thoughts are believed to come from core beliefs that clients have in their lives.

In between an individual’s automatic thoughts and core beliefs, they also hold what are known as intermediate beliefs which are the basic attitudes, rules and assumptions they have come to believe in over the course of their life. While in cognitive behavioral therapy, the therapist gradually moves on from identifying and evaluating the three levels of thought processes and challenges clients to identify those thoughts which keep them stuck in their addiction. By using the various cognitive and behavioral techniques available, those in CBT are able to replace those old thoughts with new healthy, adaptive patterns of thinking and behaving.

Are You Struggling with Addiction? Call Guardian Recovery Network and Find Out More About Our Drug Treatment Programs

If you or a loved one needs help in addressing your substance abuse issues, call Guardian Recovery Network toll-free today and speak with our experienced addiction professionals. As one of the premier drug and alcohol treatment facilities in Florida, Guardian Recovery Network has developed effective drug treatment programs that are proven to work no matter the severity of your addiction. We offer a wide range of treatment services that can be individually tailored to meet your unique and specific needs.

If you are ready to transform your life, call Guardian Recovery Network today.