One thing that has become clear over the years is that there is no one-size-fits-all treatment approach for recovering from substance use. Two popular forms of therapy often used in treatment centers and outpatient programs are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Let’s look at CBT vs. DBT and their role in substance use treatment. The residents at Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center in Oxford, MS, have the opportunity to participate in various therapy programs.

What is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?

What works for one person may not have the same effect on another. That’s why many professional therapists use varying approaches in guiding patients toward a healthy recovery. Cognitive-behavioral therapy works by asking residents to focus on their relationships. They do this by expressing their feelings and examining their actions and behaviors.

Therapists help by getting residents actively engaged in different activities. The goal is to help residents see and understand the unhealthy patterns they fall into when dealing with relationships. It gives them clarity around how past thought processes and habits play a role in engaging in self-destructive behavior.

The goal of CBT is to help residents recognize when they are falling into those same mental traps. The therapists at Stonewater train our residents on different techniques, which are meant to show residents how to turn negative thinking into a positive direction. This allows the resident to engage in healthier behaviors, keeping them from sliding back into their negative behavior.

What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

Dialectical behavior therapy evolved as a way of helping individuals suffering from bipolar disorder. The use of CBT treatment among therapists expanded as research showed the benefits of using it to treat other mental disorders like bulimia, PTSD, and eating disorders. It also became common as a way of treating substance use.

One reason for the expanding popularity of DBT treatment is the way it helps people build skills that help them regulate emotion. Moreover, it offers them the ability to deal with traumatic experiences and painful feelings in ways that decrease conflicts in their relationships.

The Main Difference Between CBT vs. DBT

The techniques used in CBT and DBT treatment have the same foundation. Both focus on treating mental issues that drive behaviors like substance use and self-harm. There’s a lot of talk therapy involved with CBT, which means there must be trust built between our therapists and the resident. There also needs to be a willingness by the resident to open up about their experiences and put in the necessary work to change negative behaviors.

While the basis of DBT is in CBT, it adds additional elements to sessions. Instead of only working on change, therapists put a focus on getting residents to accept their feelings and validating that their emotions are real. It helps balance the relationship between the two, playing a significant role in enabling the resident to move forward in making the changes needed for real recovery.

In addition, there are also other essential differences in CBT vs. DBT treatment.

  • CBT typically consists only of weekly sessions between a resident and therapist
  • DBT adds group sessions to the mix
  • DBT also trains residents in skills like tolerating distress, more effective personal communication and accepting the reality around them

While CBT focuses on helping residents change their way of thinking in more constructive ways, DBT puts an additional focus on the feelings of individuals.

Learn About CBT vs. DBT at Stonewater

At Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center, we incorporate DBT into our boys’ substance use treatment programs. We also offer our residents the chance to take part in other therapies and programs, including:

  • Residential treatment
  • Withdrawal management
  • Art therapy
  • Adventure and nature therapy
  • Recovery Support

Our facility provides treatment for adolescent boys. Find out more about what we offer at Stonewater by calling 662.373.2828


stonewater logoStonewater Recovery Center is an adolescent boys’ substance abuse treatment center in Oxford, Mississippi. We offer residential addiction treatment, dual diagnosis treatment, addiction detox services, & more. Contact us today to learn more about our adolescent addiction treatment programs.