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Using DBT for Anxiety

a therapist with his notepad in his lap explains DBT for anxiety to a patient who sits on a couch across from him

In a world increasingly fraught with uncertainties, the relevance of targeted therapeutic techniques such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) for managing anxiety becomes ever more significant. But what exactly is DBT, and how does it apply to anxiety treatment? Evoke Wellness at Cohasset

At Evoke Wellness at Cohasset, we offer a comprehensive dialectical behavior therapy program that caters to individuals grappling with anxiety. Our team of highly trained professionals utilizes the latest research and proven methods to provide effective, patient-centered care. Call us at 866.931.6429 to learn more.

Understanding the Types of Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy encompasses a group of therapeutic approaches that aim to modify harmful behaviors in patients. These therapies operate on the belief that all behaviors are learned, and thus, unhealthy behaviors can be unlearned or restructured. This form of therapy seeks to identify and change potentially self-destructive or unhealthy behaviors, replacing them with more positive ones.

There are several types of behavioral therapy, each with its unique focus and techniques:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a common type of behavioral therapy that helps people understand the thoughts and feelings that influence behaviors. CBT is typically used to treat a variety of disorders, such as phobias, addiction, depression, and anxiety.

CBT techniques include cognitive restructuring (identifying and challenging maladaptive thoughts), exposure therapy (gradual exposure to fear-inducing situations to reduce anxiety), and behavioral activation (encouraging participation in pleasant activities to improve mood).

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT was initially developed to treat borderline personality disorder but is now used for various mental health disorders. It emphasizes the psychosocial aspects of treatment, focusing on the interaction between individuals and their surrounding environment.

DBT incorporates techniques such as mindfulness (staying present and focused), distress tolerance (accepting and tolerating distress), interpersonal effectiveness (managing relationships and conflicts), and emotion regulation (modifying intense and problematic emotions).

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

ACT is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies combined with commitment and behavior change strategies. This approach helps individuals increase psychological flexibility, meaning they can adapt to situations with openness, awareness, and focus and take effective actions guided by their values.

ACT techniques include cognitive defusion (reducing the influence of unhelpful thoughts and beliefs), acceptance (making room for unpleasant feelings, sensations, urges, and other private experiences), and value clarification (discovering what’s truly important and meaningful).

Systematic Desensitization

This type of behavioral therapy is predominantly used to treat phobias and other anxiety disorders. It involves exposing the patient to the source of their anxiety in a controlled, gradual manner until the fear is extinguished.

The techniques used in systematic desensitization include relaxation training (teaching individuals to relax their muscles), fear hierarchy (creating a list of fear-inducing stimuli), and graduated exposure (exposing individuals to fear-inducing stimuli in a graded manner).

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)

ERP is a type of CBT used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The patient is repeatedly exposed to an obsession (such as dirt or germs) and then prevented from performing their usual compulsive response (like washing hands). The exposure helps reduce the anxiety and distress caused by the obsession.

In conclusion, there are various types of behavioral therapies, each with its unique techniques and focus. The choice of therapy often depends on the individual’s specific mental health needs. If you or someone you know needs help, consult a healthcare professional or mental health expert to understand which type of behavioral therapy may be most appropriate.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)

REBT is a form of CBT that emphasizes the importance of thinking, judging, deciding, analyzing, and doing. It posits that individuals often blame external events for unhappiness, but it is their view of these events that truly upsets them.

The central technique in REBT is disputing—challenging irrational beliefs and replacing them with healthier, rational ones. Other techniques include cognitive restructuring, psychoeducation about emotions, and the use of coping strategies for dealing with future adversities.

Prolonged Exposure Therapy

This therapy is a specific type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that treats post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It involves gradually approaching trauma-related memories, feelings, and situations to reduce the power they have to cause distress.

Prolonged exposure therapy involves four primary components:

  • Education about PTSD symptoms
  • Breathing retraining
  • Real-world practice (also known as in vivo exposure)
  • Talking through the trauma (imaginal exposure)

Behavioral therapies are powerful tools in the mental health field, proven to help individuals overcome a wide variety of psychological conditions. The techniques used within these therapies are as diverse as the therapies themselves, each tailored to address specific types of behaviors and disorders.

Using DBT for Anxiety

With the escalating prevalence of mental health disorders, the application of DBT for anxiety can serve as a game-changer, providing sustainable strategies for individuals struggling with this disorder and, ultimately, improving their overall mental well-being.

DBT’s strength lies in its dialectical approach, meaning it finds a balance between acceptance and change. It encourages patients to accept their anxiety while simultaneously working towards changing their harmful thought patterns and behaviors. This process empowers individuals to live more fulfilling lives, despite their anxiety.

Discover Our DBT Program at Evoke Wellness at Cohasset

Embrace the tranquility and empowerment that comes with effective management of your anxiety through DBT. We at Evoke Wellness at Cohasset are ready to guide you on your journey toward a more balanced and fulfilling life. Contact us at 866.931.6429 to learn more about our DBT for anxiety program.