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girl in high grass on a sunny day.Addiction steals the mind, body, and soul from individuals and inhibits them from reaching their full potential. For individuals suffering from addiction, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is used to give recovering addicts the tools needed to remove their negative cycles of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Immersing individuals in a Dialectical Behavioral Therapy program helps to ensure they will be given the coping skills needed in maintaining lifetime sobriety.

DBT is intended to break the cycle of helplessness, distress, and the mental cravings for the drug. By freeing individuals from negative thoughts and establishing mindfulness and emotional regulation, individuals will be better equipped to manage their difficult life moments in a meaningful and productive way.

How Did DBT Begin?

DBT was developed in the 1970s by Dr. Marsha Linehan, Professor of Psychology at the University of Washington. Linehan recognized the need for effective methods to help suffering patients transform suicidal thoughts and emotional dysregulation to live a meaningful life again. Originally, DBT was found to be effective for people diagnosed with the most common dual diagnosis: Substance Use Disorders (SUD) and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

DBT is intended to help patients eliminate suicidal thoughts and establish self-acceptance through targeting the causes of substance abuse and promoting abstinence. The goal is to eliminate the mental and physical pain caused from withdrawal and establish opportunities for change and progress. Throughout the process of DBT, unwanted thoughts and behaviors are replaced by a positive mental framework that empowers individuals to make healthier decisions in their everyday lives.

Key Components of DBT

DBT is an effective psychotherapy technique used at Covenant Hills Treatment Center that empowers individuals with serious addiction to take ownership of their recovery process. By addressing the “whole person”, mind, body, and soul, suffering individuals will be immersed in each component of the DBT process by a supportive team of experts.

Individual Therapy Sessions. Individual sessions are specifically designed by a team of therapists, counselors and pastors to meet the needs of the specific client’s addiction. You learn the strategies needed to maintain sobriety and are connected to the larger support group of the entire staff. You examine your entire journey and are taught strategies to regulate distressful emotions.

You work with a therapist and spiritual counselor to devise an individualized treatment plan to meet your personal and professional goals. Through continued therapy sessions, you gain strength and confidence in your ability to better control your thoughts and actions. You are connected to positive social networking groups for opportunities to jobs, activities, and the spiritual community.

Group Therapy Sessions. Interpersonal relationships are fostered and supported in group therapy sessions. This provides you with an opportunity to connect with people who are going through similar experiences. This humanizing experience fosters empathy and connectedness with individuals and promotes a positive outlet of support.

Phone Coaching. When you are struggling in-between therapy sessions or do not know where to go during a difficult moment, patients can call their therapist, counselor, or pastor. This component ensures you feel safe and empowered at all times and creates an avenue to use self-management and self-soothing techniques needed in avoiding a relapse.

Therapy Consultations. Skills training is continuously enhanced in every therapy consultation. This component helps you assess your progress during your recovery journey and motivates individuals to continue achieving their goals.

‘Whole person’ skills learned from DBT

During DBT, you learn to deconstruct your true identity apart from your addiction. You rebuild an identity that fosters self-compassion and resilience. In addition to rebuilding your self-concept, DBT teaches you the following skills that help in avoiding a relapse:

Mindfulness: The skills learned from DBT help you understand the present moment and respond in a productive way using a coping technique. Instead of impulsively turning to the illicit substance to cope with difficult moments, you learn to seek social support or engage in a productive activity.

Distress Tolerance: DBT teaches you to reduce anxiety and stress associated with social and environmental stressors. By using self-soothing techniques and coping mechanisms that use stress as a motivator to seek personal change, you will cultivate self-compassion.

Interpersonal Effectiveness: The strategies learned from DBT aid you in balancing your needs while maintaining self-respect and healthy relationships with supportive friends and family.

Emotional Regulation: Addiction recovery is a very emotional process in which DBT seeks to promote a healthy mindset. This leads to the ability to control emotions. When you face adversity, you work closely with your therapists to respond to an emotional moment by engaging in positive self talk and productive behaviors.

Behavioral skills learned from DBT in addiction recovery

Dr. Linehan and Dr. Dimeff identify key elements that are targeted through DBT for substance abusers. The following are key behavioral targets for substance abusers that are used at Covenant Hills:

  • Detoxifying patients from drugs used and reducing the urge to buy/use illicit drugs
  • Establishing coping mechanisms to alleviate withdrawal symptoms
  • Creating self-management skills and strategies learned in DBT to reduce the emotional and physical need for the drug to cope
  • Avoiding social groups and environments that create the need for the illicit drug
  • Breaking off all contact from people who previously were associated with the drug and establishing a new phone number and social group
  • Connecting with the community of God, establishing enjoyable hobbies, and finding a meaningful profession will all aid the patient in reconstructing their self-concept

The transformative power of DBT

The effective use of DBT at Covenant Hills is enhanced by having a strong spiritual foundation and a team of professionals that help to guide individuals to seek a larger purpose. DBT not only establishes mindfulness and emotional regulation, but is aided by the transformative spiritual experience at Covenant Hills. The comprehensive  Christian-based treatment program seeks to provide individuals with the tools needed to restore their mind, body, and soul from addiction in order to reach their full potential and avoid a relapse.


Covenant Hills Treatment is a faith-based addiction treatment facility in Orange County, California and San Antonio, Texas. Covenant Hills emphasizes a whole person approach to care and clients work with pastors, therapists, and counselors who are professionally trained in the Christian-based treatment program. Staff help individuals connect to a larger community of God and support the process of finding purpose again in one’s life beyond their addiction.  800-NO-ABUSE  (800) 662-2873.