Psychotherapy is an important part of any mental health treatment program. For a variety of mental diseases, psychotherapy is one of the most effective treatment options.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) are three of the most frequently used psychotherapies.

DBT and ACT are known as the third wave of the CBT approach. CBT is based on change. Furthermore,  Marsha Linehan, the creator of CBT, believed that a component of acceptance was required to assist extremely suicidal persons in healing more easily.

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The mindfulness component of DBT is based on Zen teachings. There are four modules in both the adult and child versions of DBT, which consist of mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.

On the other hand, ACT is likewise built on mindfulness and acceptance. It is based on the idea that you do not have to alter your emotions, but you can modify how you perceive them.

DBT vs CBT vs ACT

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Understanding DBT

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)  focuses on behavior, but it also includes a social component.

Furthermore, DBT usually consists of not just meeting with the counselor. Moreover, it also consists of a support system to discuss things out with, which gives unpleasant sentiments and actions a new direction.

During sessions, the client and the counselor address previous issues and feelings before devising a plan to enhance the quality of life. Examining and reframing harmful beliefs is also part of DBT. However, in addition to focusing on changing beliefs and actions, there is also an awareness that we act in certain ways for good reasons.

In DBT, these factors are transformation and acceptance, and dialectics includes balancing and harmonizing forces that appear to be opposites.

DBT Therapy Procedure

DBT is done weekly with 45 minutes to 50-minute sessions and 2 hours to 2.5-hour group sessions. Clients can call their therapist for help during a crisis, which generally lasts 5 minutes to 10 minutes and follows a set of principles.

The focus is on problem-solving with new and effective abilities. The importance of validation in treatment cannot be overstated even if they are not effective or a good decision.

In DBT, therapeutic interaction is crucial. DBT is a long-term treatment that lasts anywhere from six months to a year or more.

DBT has three stages of therapy, each of which focuses on certain types of behaviors to reduce or increase. On the other hand, DBT is effective for illnesses that have some of the same features as borderline personality disorder:

  1. Impulsivity
  2. Moods that are intense and change frequently
  3. Exposure to a traumatic event
  4. Problems with interpersonal relationships
  5. Addiction
  6. Suicidal tendencies
  7. Dangerous habits

The therapist may include objects in your weekly sessions that encourage you to practice mindfulness via your senses (seeing, touch, taste, smell, and hearing).

Furthermore, you might also talk about coping mechanisms for when you are experiencing powerful emotions. Instead of attempting to modify powerful emotions, DBT focuses on learning how to manage them in the present.

Goals of DBT Therapy

The ultimate goal of DBT is to improve one’s overall quality of life. The first stage focuses on reducing harmful behaviors while also improving effective behavior skills.

The trauma is processed in the second stage. The third stage focuses on boosting self-esteem and achieving personal objectives.

DBT is effective for a wide range of disorders. However, treatment is particularly beneficial for those who have suicidal thoughts, self-harming tendencies, or Borderline Personality Disorder.

You will acquire practical techniques like mindfulness-based exercises in a DBT treatment session. After that, you practice these abilities in between sessions and then report back on what transpired.

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Understanding CBT

Since the 1950s, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been honed into two core beliefs:

  1. Ideas have a dominating influence on emotions and behaviors,
  2. And behaviors may have a profound impact on both thinking patterns and emotions.

CBT necessitates a shift in one’s self-perception and behavior. Furthermore, CBT is not the same as talk therapy, in which the client may spend 45 minutes with the therapist.

The two counseling techniques, DBT and ACT are built based on cognitive behavioral therapy, since the fundamental goal is to promote awareness through behavior and thought processes.

CBT works by identifying and re-framing negative thoughts and beliefs to modify behavior. Because it focuses on the practical basis of the problem, this style of treatment is frequently helpful.

CBT has been demonstrated to be extremely helpful in the treatment of depression, and it is more likely than other forms of therapy to bring depression into remission.

This form of therapy has also been shown to be effective in the treatment of anxiety, as it allows patients to take charge of their own rehabilitation.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), phobias, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and sleeping problems have all been proven to benefit from CBT.

CBT Therapy Procedure

Weekly or every two weeks, CBT sessions are normally 45 minutes to 50 minutes long. They are generally short-term, lasting 5 to 20 sessions.

Moreover, sessions concentrate on current issues rather than digging deeper into the past. CBT tries to enhance, control emotions and behavior by changing negative beliefs.

By concentrating on a specific problem and working toward a healthy resolution, CBT provides effective problem-solving skills. The method is collaborative, with the therapist and the client working together as a team.

Exercises are used in therapy sessions to help clients recognize negative beliefs, evaluate them, and challenge and reframe them. Clients can keep a diary, express their ideas out, fill out depression or anxiety assessments, practice imagery, relaxation skills, or use other strategies.

Why CBT doesn’t work for trauma?

Goals of CBT Therapy

Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (S.M.A.R.T) objectives are used in CBT. Goals will be set based on the unproductive habits that is making life tough for the client.

Moreover, negative feelings and thoughts can arise from depression, stress anxiety disorders, trauma, or other circumstances, and they can raise the risk of addiction.

Several studies have found a relationship between addiction and persistent negative thinking. Clients learn to detect troubling thoughts and other negative patterns, as well as how to reframe them and transition to better responses, through CBT.

DBT vs CBT vs ACT differences

Understanding ACT

While DBT stresses the social side of talking, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) focuses on taking action in response to painful feelings and behaviors. This allows the client to embrace their feelings for what they are rather than ignoring, rejecting, or battling with them.

ACT  teaches you how to become more curious about your thoughts. As well as ways for calming them down. The resolve to take action and make positive changes in your life is another crucial part of ACT.

Moreover, ACT treatment can assist you in identifying what is essential to you and developing a strategy that is consistent with your values, ultimately giving your life greater meaning and purpose.

ACT Therapy Procedure

ACT is referred to as a third-wave treatment, therapy that goes beyond typical cognitive therapies (CBT) by incorporating additional aspects.

At its foundation, the ACT is a mindfulness-based treatment with the primary purpose of enhancing psychological flexibility and assisting you in creating a life that is genuinely you and aligned with your beliefs.

When it comes to solving difficulties, reasoning is not always the best approach. We may, however, make space for these sentiments, emotions, and sensations while still practicing moving ahead in our lives.

According to studies, ACT therapy is beneficial for many mental health issues and practicing acceptance of life’s situations in general.

Moreover, ACT therapy is beneficial for anxiety disorders, depression, substance abuse, chronic pain, and relationship issues. Furthermore, ACT therapy can be useful for both short-term and long-term therapy.

Goals of ACT Therapy

The goal is to reframe negative statements and feelings into positive ones, similar to CBT and DBT. ACT, on the other hand, takes a step further by emphasizing the importance of embracing oneself and making a commitment to altering one’s behavior.

This commitment entails allowing yourself to feel your feelings and then taking steps to become more positive. This treatment is based on the idea that repressing emotions is detrimental and destructive to the client’s health.

Furthermore, the goal of ACT is to help you accept the facts of life and to accept thoughts for what they are by using acceptance, commitment, mindfulness skills, and behavior-change tactics.

The purpose of ACT is to assist clients to choose to act successfully in the face of challenging or disruptive private circumstances on a consistent basis.

Changes in both internal and exterior verbal conduct are at the heart of ACT. It is liberating to just see oneself having sensations and to recognize and accept that sentiments are a natural development of circumstances.

Final Thoughts

DBT, CBT, and ACT are effective, evidence-based therapies that can help people make significant improvements in their lives.

Each treatment aims to recognize and address uncomfortable emotions and harmful behaviors that come with them. Each technique has its unique manner of assisting people in coping. At the end of the day, it is all about finding a method that works for you.

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Josiane Camilleri

Josiane Camilleri

Professor

Writer for Therapy Hunter as well as psychology
professor at Malta University.

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