Dialectical Behavior Therapy San Diego

APEX Rehab


Our therapists incorporate Dialectical Behavior Therapy, or DBT, to promote abstinence from drug and alcohol use and to reduce the possibility and severity of relapses. Similar to CBT, DBT helps patients develop and pursue goals that are independent of substance abuse and other out-of-control behaviors, with an ultimate goal of helping patients better deal with the everyday problems of life.

DBT is a modality of cognitive behavioral treatment, originally developed to treat individuals with borderline personality disorder who were suicidal. Since then it has been recognized as highly successful in helping individuals with alcohol and substance addiction and those with mental health issues, like depression and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD).

DBT works with individuals in various settings. Firstly, it teaches constructive behavioral skills in a group context. Every session is accompanied with homework that should prompt the patient to process the skills taught. DBT also includes individual counseling and it focuses on the patient’s unique life challenges. Finally, there is phone coaching that ensures the patient can get support and guidance from the therapist at the moments they need them most. All of these aspects of therapy can and, usually do, run simultaneously.

There are multiple behavior patterns that DBT aims to change. Firstly, the therapy focuses on behaviors that threaten the individual’s life, such as suicidal thoughts. Next, there are therapy-interfering behaviors such as coming late to sessions and skipping meetings. Thirdly, the therapy focuses on behaviors that lower the individual’s quality of life, because they interfere with their socio-emotional relationships, professional development, economic stability, etc. Finally, DBT aims to teach the patient skills that will allow them to deal with life challenges more constructively and effectively – skills they should use instead of their dysfunctional patterns.

The skills taught through DBT encompass: mindfulness and aware presence in the moment; pain tolerance and acceptance without attempting to change the pain; interpersonal skills like assertiveness and the ability to say no in order to build self-respect and better relationships; emotional regulation and changing undesirable emotions. 

The reason why this therapy is called “dialectical” is because it integrates opposites of change and acceptance. For example, the four skills which are at the foundation of DBT are acceptance-oriented (accepting the present moment and pain when it emerges) and change-oriented (changing interpersonal and emotional patterns).

Through the four stages of DBT treatment, the patients progress from the “living hell” of their life plagued with mental disorders and/ or substance abuse, through acceptance of pain to full emotional experiencing and a full spiritual existence.

DBT has demonstrated tremendous success in the reduction of suicides, instances of treatment dropout and alcohol and substance abuse. It also helps deal with depression, accumulated anger and pain and improves the overall and social functioning of individuals who receive this treatment.

APEX Rehab is a San Diego alcohol and drug rehab center which has a team of highly qualified professionals who are able to deliver the best possible Dialectical Behavior Therapy available.


Dialectical Behavior Therapy