What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?

Learn how dialectical behavioral therapy can help you manage the symptoms of mental health and substance use disorders at Vista Taos Renewal Center.  

A Holistic Commitment to Healing

At Vista Taos Renewal Center, we believe healing is a journey that encompasses the mind, body, and spirit. We take a holistic approach, crafting personalized treatment plans that integrate a variety of therapies and practices designed to nurture the whole person.
We know it’s about addressing the root causes of challenges, not just managing symptoms.
dialectical behavior therapy

Importance of of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

One of the core therapies we use is dialectical behavior therapy. DBT is a powerful tool that has shown significant results in treating a variety of conditions.
It is ideal for people struggling with conditions such as:
  • Intense emotions
  • Unstable relationships
  • Chaotic behaviors

Why DBT Matters for Recovery

The road to recovery can be filled with emotional ups and downs. DBT equips people with the skills they need to manage these emotions effectively.
It goes beyond simply coping; instead, it teaches people how to:
  • Regulate emotions
  • Tolerate distress
  • Build healthier relationships

Understanding Dialectical Behavior Therapy

At its core, dialectical behavior therapy is a comprehensive psychotherapy. It is used to treat people who experience severe emotional dysregulation and exhibit self-destructive behaviors.
DBT integrates principles from various therapeutic methodologies. It combines cognitive-behavioral techniques for emotional regulation with concepts derived from Buddhist meditative practices, such as mindfulness.
This synthesis allows DBT to address the needs of treatment-resistant people. It provides them with skills to manage painful emotions and decrease relationship conflicts.

Origin of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

DBT was developed in the late 1980s by Dr. Marsha Linehan. It emerged from a need for a more effective treatment for borderline personality disorder (BPD).
Standard cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) often falls short for BPD patients. This led Dr. Linehan to create DBT as a more comprehensive approach.

Effectiveness of DBT in Diverse Treatment Settings

Here’s how dialectical behavior therapy stands out in clinical studies and practical applications:

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Research indicates that DBT dramatically improves treatment outcomes for people with BPD. Research shows that 77% of people no longer met the criteria for BPD after one year of treatment.1
DBT teaches people with BPD how to manage emotional swings and improve relationships. This helps reduce self-destructive behaviors, which are critical components of recovery from BPD.

Suicide Prevention

DBT is particularly effective in decreasing the incidence of suicide attempts. It does so by providing clients with specific skills in distress tolerance and emotional regulation.
These tools enable better management of intense emotional crises without resorting to self-harm. Research shows an impeccable treatment completion rate of 75.6% for high-risk youth who undergo DBT.2

Eating Disorders

DBT helps manage and overcome eating disorders such as binge eating and bulimia. The treatment focuses on teaching people the skills to:
  • Control impulse eating behaviors
  • Regulate emotions
  • Improve their relationship with food and body image
During a recent study, the gains from DBT were significant at the end of treatment and maintained at a six-month follow-up, demonstrating DBT’s effectiveness in fostering lasting change.3

Co-Occurring Disorders

In a recent study, DBT and comprehensive validation therapy were compared for the treatment of people with opioid use disorders and borderline personality disorder at the same time.
People who underwent DBT had 27% opiate-positive urinalysis, compared to 33% in the other group.
For the 12-month DBT group, opiate use decreased throughout the treatment period. Contrary to this, participants in the other group increased their use of opiates during the last 4 months of treatment. This highlights the effectiveness of DBT for long-term recovery.4

The Role of DBT at Vista Taos Renewal Center

Vista Taos Renewal Center takes a unique approach to healing. We believe in addressing the underlying causes of addiction, not just the behaviors themselves.
That is why our holistic program incorporates dialectical behavior therapy to create a powerful foundation for lasting recovery. This ensures that each client’s unique needs and challenges are met with empathy, expertise, and effective treatment modalities.

Holistic Integration

To ensure a holistic approach, we combine DBT with other therapeutic modalities. This may include techniques such as:
This synergy helps address various aspects of addiction and mental health disorders from multiple angles, enhancing the overall effectiveness of treatment.

Tailoring DBT to Meet Individual Needs

At Vista Taos, we understand that every client has unique needs. That is why we offer tailored DBT plans to maximize its effectiveness. This customization starts with a detailed assessment to pinpoint how DBT can best serve each client.


Depending on the client’s specific struggles, the focus may vary. Some might benefit more from learning about managing emotions. In contrast, others may need to concentrate on improving their relationships.
This personalized approach ensures that DBT acts as a precise tool for healing, addressing the core issues at hand.
DBT techniques and strategies are adapted based on individual progress and feedback. This adaptive approach ensures that therapy remains relevant and practical throughout recovery.

Applying Dialectical Behavior Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Four key modules make up the dialectical behavior therapy’s skills training. Each of these aims at enhancing different aspects of emotional and interpersonal health during addiction treatment:


Mindfulness is the foundational component of dialectical behavior therapy. It involves practicing being fully aware and present in the current moment.
Clients learn to observe and describe their feelings and surroundings without judgment during the sessions. This skill helps them detach from harmful reactive patterns and gain greater control over their responses.
Mindfulness practice increases a person’s awareness of their internal states and external stimuli. This helps them engage more thoughtfully with the world around them.

Distress Tolerance

Distress tolerance skills are crucial for people who experience overwhelming emotions. These skills help clients withstand negative feelings instead of reacting impulsively.
The strategies applicable in this process include:
  • Distraction
  • Self-soothing
  • Comparing pros and cons
  • Improving the moment (using relaxation and coping mechanisms)
By learning to tolerate distress, clients are less likely to engage in self-destructive behaviors. This provides stability during emotional crises.

Emotion Regulation

DBT acknowledges the validity of emotions. However, it emphasizes learning healthy ways to express and manage them. Participants develop skills to prevent them from leading to destructive behaviors.
These skills include:
  • Identifying their emotions
  • Understanding the triggers that intensify emotions
  • Utilizing impulse control techniques 

Interpersonal Effectiveness

DBT recognizes the importance of healthy relationships during addiction treatment. It acknowledges the fact that many people struggle with ineffective communication patterns.
Through role-playing and communication exercises, DBT teaches important skills in this regard.
This may include learning how to:
  • Set boundaries
  • Maintain healthy relationships
  • Navigate conflict resolution 

Finding Acceptance and Change

DBT acknowledges the need for both acceptance and change. Clients learn to accept their current reality while also working towards positive change. This empowers them to build a life worth living without feeling overwhelmed by the journey.

Regular Monitoring and Feedback

Therapists at Vista Taos Renewal Center provide ongoing personalized feedback. This helps adjust and refine each client’s DBT skills training to meet their evolving needs better.

Integrating DBT with Other Therapeutic Modalities

Dialectical behavior therapy is often integrated with other therapeutic approaches. The aim is to create a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses all facets of addiction.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Often used in conjunction with DBT, CBT helps modify negative thinking patterns and behaviors that contribute to addiction.
The combination of DBT’s emotion-focused strategies with CBT’s cognitive focus offers a well-rounded approach to tackling the psychological aspects of addiction.

Group Therapy

Incorporating DBT into group therapy settings yields positive results. This allows clients to:
  • Practice interpersonal skills
  • Share experiences
  • Receive peer support
As a result, addiction recovery has a stronger social learning component.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

For some clients, DBT is used alongside MAT to address the physiological and psychological aspects of addiction at the same time. This is particularly beneficial for those with severe substance use disorders.
The dual approach can improve treatment outcomes by managing withdrawal symptoms and cravings while simultaneously equipping clients with coping and emotional regulation skills.

Holistic Therapies

Incorporating holistic practices such as yoga and art therapy can complement DBT’s effectiveness. For sustained recovery, these modalities promote:
  • Stress reduction
  • Emotional balance
  • Overall well-being

How DBT Can Improve Mental Health Conditions

Dialectical behavior therapy is highly effective in treating a variety of mental health disorders. Some of the most common among them are:


Using DBT, clients can manage negative thoughts and low motivation associated with depression. Through mindfulness and emotion regulation techniques, clients learn to identify and change harmful thought patterns.
This fosters a more stable mood and increased engagement in daily activities.


For clients experiencing anxiety, DBT provides tools to manage intense feelings of fear and worry. Mindfulness and distress tolerance skills enable clients to calm their minds and bodies. This reduces the frequency and intensity of anxiety episodes.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Dialectical behavior therapy is particularly effective for PTSD. The emotional regulation and distress tolerance skills help clients process and manage trauma-related memories and emotions.
DBT’s structured approach allows for the safe exploration of traumatic incidents. This results in a gradual reduction of PTSD symptoms, such as flashbacks and emotional numbness.

Integrating DBT with Holistic Healing Modalities

At Vista Taos Renewal Center, DBT is part of a broader, holistic approach to healing. It complements other modalities by providing a structured framework that enhances emotional and psychological resilience.
DBT’s integration with holistic modalities creates an environment that addresses various aspects of well-being. Below are some important points to consider in this regard:


Yoga sessions complement DBT’s physical and mental health goals by:
  • Promoting relaxation
  • Reducing stress
  • Improving physical strength and flexibility
Additionally, the breathing exercises involved in yoga are effective tools for emotion regulation. They provide clients with techniques to manage anxiety and emotional dysregulation more effectively.

Other Holistic Modalities

We also integrate DBT with other holistic therapies like acupuncture, art therapy, and adventure-based therapy.
They support the therapeutic goals by:
  • Enhancing self-expression
  • Reducing stress
  • Increasing emotional clarity 
These modalities work with DBT to provide a well-rounded therapeutic experience that encourages well-being and recovery.

Enhancing Holistic Therapy Effectiveness with Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills

Learning DBT skills significantly enhances the effectiveness of holistic therapies.
Skills learned in DBT enable clients to engage fully in activities like yoga or meditation. They can better manage distractions and emotional discomfort that might otherwise hinder their participation.
The distress tolerance skills taught in DBT also empower clients to handle stress more effectively. This enhances their ability to benefit from stress-reducing holistic therapies.

Training and Support for Clients in Dialectical Behavior Therapy

At Vista Taos Renewal Center, we introduce clients to DBT through an initial series of orientations that explain:
  • Its fundamentals
  • Its importance
  • How they can apply new skills to their treatment and recovery
Here’s how clients start their DBT journey:

Orientation Sessions

New clients take part in comprehensive orientation sessions. In these sessions, therapists explain the structure and objectives of DBT.

Skill Practice Tools

Clients receive various tools to practice DBT skills during therapy sessions and in their daily lives. These may include:
  • Workbooks
  • Handouts
  • Guided audio exercises 
Apps and online resources can also help track progress and reinforce daily practice.

Ongoing Support and Reinforcement of DBT Principles

Continual support and reinforcement of DBT principles are crucial for the success of the therapy. At Vista Taos Renewal Center, this support includes.

Regular Therapy Sessions

Clients attend regular individual and group therapy sessions where DBT skills are practiced. These sessions allow people to:
  • Discuss challenges
  • Celebrate successes
  • Receive personalized therapist feedback

Skill-Building Activities

To reinforce learning, therapists incorporate various skill-building activities such as role-playing and scenario-based problem-solving. These activities encourage applying DBT skills in real-world scenarios.

Tips for Continuing DBT Skills Post-Treatment

Maintaining the momentum of DBT skills after leaving the treatment center is key to long-term success.
Vista Taos Renewal Center provides clients with several strategies to continue their DBT practice:
  • Develop a routine: Clients are encouraged to establish a daily routine with dedicated time for practicing DBT skills.
  • Join support groups: Taking part in mental health support groups can provide ongoing encouragement and accountability. 
  • Use technology aids: Various apps and online platforms offer DBT tools and reminders to practice skills. 
  • Continual learning: We encourage clients to keep learning about DBT and related areas through books, workshops, and seminars.
dialectical behavior therapy

How Clients Benefit from DBT at Vista Taos Renewal Center

Vista Taos Renewal Center offers a holistic approach to healing. This integrates DBT with other therapeutic modalities to create a powerful foundation for lasting recovery.
Here’s what you can gain from DBT at Vista Taos Renewal Center:
  • Master essential coping skills
  • Personalized treatment plan
  • Holistic recovery
  • Long-term relapse prevention
  • Ongoing support and feedback

Join us at Vista Taos Renewal Center

We invite you to discover the transformative power of dialectical behavior therapy at Vista Taos Renewal Center.
Whether you are dealing with emotional dysregulation, interpersonal difficulties, or the challenges of addiction, our comprehensive DBT program will provide you with the skills needed for a more balanced and fulfilling life.

Connect with Us

For more information about dialectical behavior therapy, other treatment options, or to schedule a visit, reach out to us today.
Our knowledgeable staff is here to answer any questions you may have and guide you through the admissions process. We look forward to helping you achieve lasting change and wellness.
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Ready to Renew Your Life and Well-Being?

Reach out to Vista Taos Renewal Center today and let us guide you toward sustainable recovery. We will help you heal from the addictions and substance use challenges that hinder you from leading your most fulfilled life through personalized, whole-person treatment.