Skip to main content
Welcome to Retreat of Atlanta
Follow us:

What Are The Similarities and Differences between CBT and DBT?

Evidence-based therapies are fundamental treatment options for most mental health and treatment professionals. Understanding the similarities and differences between cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is beneficial for education to build a successful treatment plan.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) maintains that 34% of American adults with diagnosable mental disorders are also dealing with a substance use disorder. Their research points to 50% of lifetime mental disorders beginning around age 14 and 75% by age 24. Treatment options are expanding as researchers collect data with holistic therapies and other essential forms of treatment to address the fact that suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 10 to 14. 

Understanding CBT and DBT

Researchers are compiling data from years of mental health therapies, including cognitive-behavioral and dialectical behavior therapies, to support the effectiveness of psychotherapy. Mental health professionals work individually with clients using talk therapies to make significant discoveries in thought patterns, behaviors, and belief systems.

The self-evident truths that are part of the discovery therapy can lead to follows with ownership and acknowledging that change is possible. A goal of talk therapies is to identify negative thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs so that they can transition toward positive growth. Other significant similarities and differences between CBT and DBT point to the diagnosis as well as finding acceptance and validation through talk therapy.

With the emphasis remaining on emotions, feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors, specific problems respond with the addition of DBT and CBT. Without acceptance and validation through DBT, change may be short-lived. Learning skills such as mindfulness and meditation are vital elements of self-reliance that form a fundamental level of self-confidence. 

The Goals of Each Therapy

Goals in cognitive-behavioral therapy begin with the foundational work of recognizing the negative thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs that led to a substance use disorder or the escalation of a mental condition. Step-by-step therapy is a process of identifying and resolving problems.

Linking the past choices of negative behavioral patterns to dysfunctional thoughts and beliefs can deepen the client’s understanding of self. New positive and productive behaviors can begin to replace those harmful behaviors of the past, building self-confidence and self-esteem. 

The following steps are vital to cognitive-behavioral therapy:

  • Identifying problems—for example, a substance use disorder and mental health disorders.
  • Exploring inner feelings, emotions, beliefs, and thought processes.
  • Linking faulty thinking to past negative behaviors.
  • Behavior restructuring, and making the change toward health and positive behaviors.

Techniques of Each Therapy

The 6 levels of validation techniques can bring new meaning to the goals of CBT and introduce the importance of listening skills, empathy, and acceptance. Therefore, dialectical behavior therapy aims to reward the client with the ability to become accepting and forgiving of oneself after receiving validation for being truthful in self-discovery. 

Validation techniques include intense interactions between the client and the therapist. The following are examples of some of the goals of DBT:

  • Mindful listening: Empathetic listening to one’s self while relaying thoughts and constant acknowledgment from the therapist.
  • Acknowledging accurately: The therapist listens to be nonjudgmental and gives a supportive summary of what was said.
  • Empathetic reading of feelings: The therapist tries to read the emotions and feelings of the client from what they heard.
  • Validation based on feelings: For example, someone in a severe car accident with a semi, getting validation of their fear of driving on the highway.
  • Validation based on reasoning: For example, it makes sense someone gets anxious around crowds because of social anxiety. 
  • Seeing themselves as equals: Therapists understand the client’s strengths and limitations and believe they can work on overcoming and succeeding.

Who is CBT Best for?

Many substance use disorders, especially unintentional addiction through prescription opioids for chronic pain, respond well to cognitive-behavioral therapy in combination with noninvasive, nonpharmacologic approaches to acute and chronic pain.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers many insights into treatments and nonopioid medications for chronic pain. Although the similarities and differences between CBT and DBT are subtle, behavior changes are a beneficial stepping stone in recovery. 

People who may benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy include:

  • Those with a diagnosable mental health condition (depression, anxiety, OCD, phobias, and PTSD)
  • Those with a substance use disorder
  • People who suffer from acute or chronic pain
  • People who are struggling with an eating disorder
  • People who struggle with anger and aggressive behaviors

Who is DBT Best for?

Dialectical behavior therapy works very well for those with both a substance use disorder and a mental health condition. Just as CBT works well for those with dual diagnosis, this type of behavior therapy supports self-acceptance while inducing an understanding and validation of past behaviors.

Long-term sobriety is the goal for those with an SUD, and sustainable behavior modifications for those with a mental health disorder to maintain balance and wellness with supportive behaviors. DBT works for all of the above conditions and addictions, as well as people who struggle with trauma, self-harm, and bipolar disorder. 

What Are Their Similarities?

Both talk therapies work well to identify thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and behaviors and link them to a disorder. CBT and DBT are often one-on-one therapies between a client and a mental health professional with training in these therapies. The length of treatment can determine its success.

Combining these therapies after treatment with holistic and group therapies outside of treatment solidifies and reinforces initial treatment. 

How Are Both Different?

The differences between CBT and DBT seem small but are genuinely significant. DBT takes behavior modification a step further after the foundation of CBT. Holistic methods of mindfulness, listening skills, validation, acceptance, and meditation offer new ways of accentuating behavior changes.

CBT teaches positive coping mechanisms to replace negative past behaviors, while DBT teaches skills to support the new healthy methods of coping. Both methods of talk therapy are helpful in relapse prevention. 

Treatment Professionals Can Offer Advice Concerning Talk Therapy in Georgia

It can be confusing and overwhelming to understand what kind of therapy to look for when an addiction or mental health disorder is present. The Retreat of Atlanta understands how daunting it is to make so many decisions. The premier staff of physicians, mental health professionals, and treatment advisors evaluate each person and design personal treatment options.

Contact the facility today and speak with their empathetic and caring staff for more information. 

Begin Your Treatment Today

Take The First Step Towards Your Journey To Recovery