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DBT skills training in addiction treatment

DBT skills training at a glance
Recognizing the need to equip patients with as many coping skills as possible to embrace recovery, Geisinger Marworth has adapted DBT (Dialectal Behavioral Therapy) skills training. This highly researched approach has been published by Marsha Linehan, PhD, ABPP, and focuses on important skill development.

Originally developed to work with borderline personality disorders, the skills training has relevance in relapse prevention and enhancing recovery. Through weekly lectures and workshops, Marworth is teaching patients practical and simple skills that are essential to early recovery.

The skill development focuses on four main areas

  • Mindfulness
  • Distress tolerance
  • Interpersonal effectiveness
  • Emotion regulation

Mindfulness skills

  • Is the skill of learning to focus on the present moment in a non-attached manner
  • Recognizing that chemically dependent individuals are often impulsive and reactive, this skill—with practice—provides the means to step back from a situation, acknowledge what is occurring, and ultimately take action rather than reacting impulsively, providing the tools to practice “One day at a time”

Distress tolerance skills

  • Teach patients to tolerate uncomfortable emotions and difficult situations without making matters worse
  • These skills are used in situations where problem-solving skills are ineffective because the situation cannot be changed.
  • Distress tolerance skills are particularly effective in dealing with a craving for a chemical and helps patients recognize that “Nothing is so bad a drink won’t make it worse.”

Interpersonal effectiveness skills

  • Provide a clear and concise blueprint for asking for what one needs, or for asserting oneself in saying “no”
  • These skills also focus on ways to maintain relationships while meeting one’s needs effectively.
  • Recognizing the toll addiction takes on relationships, these skills are particularly necessary in negotiating early recovery and to remember “We’re responsible for the effort, not the outcome.”

Emotion regulation skills

  • Teach patients the adaptive and functional nature of emotion and the importance of embracing feelings as helpful rather than something to avoid in recovery.
  • Patients are taught specific skills to reduce emotional vulnerability and to manage painful emotions in a healthy way. These skills help with understanding that “Serenity is not a freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm.”


Call Marworth at 800-442-7722 to speak with an admissions counselor. You can enroll in a substance use recovery program yourself or refer someone else for treatment. Many people are referred to Marworth by a family member, family doctor, therapist, employer, employee assistance program, insurance provider, clergy, community organization or another drug and alcohol center.

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