DBT Skills Pathway a Success

Our May 18 Monthly Pathway Session on DBT Skills was well-attended and highly informative. Silver Hill’s Ryan Wade, MD, an addiction psychiatrist who leads the treatment program for Co-occurring Disorders, started off by covering the key concepts behind DBT, or Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Then we heard from a woman in long-term recovery who courageously told her story of hope, which included how she continues to use DBT Skills to this day.

Ryan talked about the philosophy behind DBT, which is using dialectic thinking. A dialectic is when two seemingly conflicting things are true at the same time. An example is wanting relief AND wanting sobriety. DBT-S, which Silver Hill uses for substance use disorders, focuses on substance use as the prominent self-defeating behavioral. There are 4 DBT Skills modules: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.

JW, our speaker with lived experience described her “bottom” less than a year ago, involving both mental health issues and using alcohol and other substances. She participated in both Silver Hill’s Transitional Living and Outpatient Programs. She is currently an active participant in 12-step peer support group meetings, which similar to DBT focus on acceptance and change. Our speaker mentioned one particular skill (TIPP–Temperature change; Intense exercise; Paced breathing; Paired muscle relaxation) that she felt helpful for reducing anxiety in certain situations.

Bottom line: DBT is a recovery based treatment incorporating acceptance and mindfulness. More and more therapists are using it to help individuals with substance or mental health disorders learn life coping skills and strategies. For many like our authentic speaker JW, people use DBT to live very meaningful lives with much reduced suffering. See Ryan’s slide deck here, and contact Paul at preinhar99@gmail.com for the event replay.