Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy in Alpharetta is a comprehensive cognitive-behavioral treatment. Developed in the late 1980s, DBT was initially created to help individuals struggling with specific mental health disorders. Over time, its scope has expanded, proving effective in treating various mental health and substance use disorders.

What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

Dialectical behavior therapy in Alpharetta is a comprehensive cognitive-behavioral treatment technique. DBT is particularly effective in treating a range of psychological disorders, especially those characterized by intense emotional experiences.

DBT was initially developed by psychologist Marsha M. Linehan in the late 1980s. Dialectical behavior therapy was initially created to help individuals struggling with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and suicidal thoughts. Over time, its scope has expanded, and dialectical behavior therapy in Alpharetta is proving effective in treating various mental health and substance use disorders.

Definition of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

DBT emerged in response to the limitations observed in traditional cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) when applied to more severe cases of borderline personality disorder (BPD). Patients with BPD often exhibited intense emotional pain, self-destructive behaviors, and a pattern of failed therapeutic engagements.

Dialectical behavior therapy’s approach involves a balance between acceptance and change strategies, rooted in the philosophical concept of dialectics. This concept emphasizes the synthesis of opposites. This balance is critical in DBT’s approach to therapy sessions.

Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy Effective?

Dialectical behavior therapy in Alpharetta represents a significant advancement in the treatment of complex mental health disorders. Its emphasis on balancing acceptance and change, combined with its structured approach to skill development, makes it a versatile and effective therapeutic modality.

Its application has grown beyond its initial focus on BPD, demonstrating its utility in treating a broad spectrum of disorders. It has been shown to be especially effective in treating co-occurring substance use and other mental health conditions.

DBT for Substance Use Disorder Treatment

At Emerge, we provide dialectical behavior therapy in Alpharetta for the treatment of substance use disorders (SUDs). The primary application of DBT for substance use disorder treatment involves integrating strategies to target substance abuse directly.

These include relapse prevention skills, managing triggers for drug use, and reducing vulnerabilities to substance abuse. Research has shown that DBT can be effective in reducing substance abuse, particularly when paired with supportive therapies and follow-up aftercare.

DBT’s effectiveness in treating substance use disorders can be attributed to its comprehensive approach, which addresses not just the substance use itself, but also the underlying emotional and psychological issues that often accompany it.

By teaching skills that improve emotional regulation, distress tolerance, mindfulness, and interpersonal effectiveness, DBT in Alpharetta helps individuals with SUDs develop healthier coping mechanisms, reduce their reliance on substances, and build a more stable and fulfilling life.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Substance Use Disorder Treatment

DBT for Mental Health Disorder Treatment

Even though dialectical behavior therapy was originally developed for BPD, DBT in Alpharetta has been effectively adapted for a variety of mental health disorders. The DBT skills training performed by Emerge’s DBT therapists, such as emotional regulation and distress tolerance, are universally applicable to a wide range of psychological issues. Additionally, empirical studies have consistently shown DBT to be effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Mental Health Disorder Treatment

Just a few of the most common mental health disorders treated with DBT include:

Dialectical behavior therapy in Alpharetta provides a comprehensive toolkit that can be adapted to a wide range of mental health disorders. DBT’s effectiveness in treating various mental health disorders is largely attributed to its holistic approach that addresses both the behavioral and emotional dimensions of these disorders.

DBT at Emerge provides our clients the skills to better regulate emotions, tolerate distress, and be mindful of the present moment. This can empower our clients to interact more effectively with others and get more out of their time in treatment.

Call Today

If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, mental health disorder, or co-occurring disorders then give Emerge a call. We can help you find which treatment option is appropriate for your situation.

How Does Dialectical Behavior Therapy Work?

DBT at Emerge is typically conducted through individual psychotherapy, group therapy, and emotional regulation skills training sessions. The individual therapy component focuses on enhancing motivation and helping patients to apply DBT skills in daily life. The group sessions, on the other hand, are more instructional and focus on helping our clients learn new skills. A unique aspect of DBT is the inclusion of telephone coaching, where patients can call their therapist between sessions to receive guidance on coping with difficult situations in real-time.

DBT also emphasizes the concept of “dialectical dilemmas” in BPD, which include emotional vulnerability vs. self-invalidation, active passivity vs. apparent competence, and unrelenting crises vs. inhibited grieving. Therapists work with patients to navigate these dilemmas and find a balance between acceptance and change.

The Principles of DBT

The dialectical approach in DBT is grounded in the concept that everything is interconnected and change is constant and inevitable. The treatment focuses on helping individuals develop skills in four key areas:

Principles of DBT - Mindfulness


Enhancing an individual’s ability to accept and be present in the current moment.

Principles of DBT - Distress Tolerance

Distress Tolerance

Fostering techniques to tolerate pain in difficult situations, not change it.

Principles of DBT - Emotional Regulation

Emotion Regulation

Learning to modulate and change intense emotions that are causing problems in a person’s life.

Principles of DBT - Interpersonal Effectiveness

Interpersonal Effectiveness

Increasing skills for healthy relationships, including assertiveness and conflict resolution.

Benefits of Dialectical Behavior Therapy in Alpharetta

At Emerge, dialectical behavior therapy in Alpharetta has shown considerable effectiveness in treating substance use disorders, mental health disorders, and co-occurring disorders. This is especially the case when traditional treatments have not been successful. This is primarily due to several key features of DBT, including:

  1. Comprehensive Approach: DBT integrates cognitive-behavioral techniques with mindfulness principles from Eastern psychology. This blend addresses both the behavioral and emotional aspects of disorders.
  2. Emphasis on Acceptance and Change: DBT balances accepting one’s current situation with the need for change. This approach helps individuals come to terms with their condition while actively working towards improvement.
  3. Effectiveness in Treating Emotional Dysregulation: Many mental health and substance use disorders involve emotional dysregulation. DBT specifically targets this aspect, making it particularly effective.
  4. Adaptability: DBT has been successfully adapted for a range of disorders, including BPD, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and PTSD, as well as substance use disorders. Its flexibility allows it to address the unique needs of individuals with various conditions.
  5. Reduction of Self-Harm and Suicidal Behaviors: DBT is recognized for its effectiveness in reducing self-harm and suicidal behaviors, which are common in many mental health disorders.
  6. Addressing Co-Occurring Disorders: DBT’s comprehensive nature makes it well-suited for treating co-occurring disorders by addressing multiple issues concurrently, which is often more effective than treating each disorder in isolation.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy in Alpharetta, Georgia

The adaptation of DBT in Alpharetta, Georgia for substance use disorders involves integrating its core principles with specific strategies aimed at addressing substance abuse. This approach has been beneficial for individuals struggling with both SUDs and other complex psychological issues, particularly the treatment of borderline personality disorder (BPD).

Studies have found DBT to be effective in reducing depressive symptoms, particularly in individuals who have not responded well to other treatments. When applied to anxiety disorders, DBT can reduce anxiety symptoms, improve coping strategies, and enhance the quality of life for those with various anxiety disorders.

If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health, substance abuse, or co-occurring disorders, call Emerge Healing Center today. You are not alone and we can help you find a solution.

need help?

If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health, addiction, or co-occurring disorders then we are here for you. Please give us a call today so you can begin the journey of a lifetime.

More Evidence-Based Therapy Resources

If you’d like to learn more about Emerge’s evidence-based therapies for mental health and addiction in Alpharetta, then read some of our informative articles on the topic below. We explain all of our therapeutic approaches so that we can answer any questions you may have.