Futures Recovery Healthcare

Understanding Two Commonly Used Therapies (for Mental Health Disorders & Addiction Treatment)



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Mental health disorders impact millions of people worldwide. In the United States, it’s estimated that more than 43.6 million adults experience mental illness annually. As the need for high quality, compassionate mental health treatment grows, evidence-based therapies continue to provide hope and healing.  However, many will never get the help they need. 

The National Alliance on Mental Illnesses (NAMI) reports that a startling 60% of adults and 50% of youth (between the ages of 8 and 15) will never get the treatment they need for their mental health disorder. As the number of people with a mental health disorder climbs across both the nation and globe, so too does the need for effective, caring treatment and therapy

CBT, DBT, and Motivational Interviewing to Treat Mental Health Disorders 

When it comes to mental health disorder treatments, there are certain therapies which have been proven over time to be helpful with certain disorders. If you or a loved one is in need of mental health treatment, you may feel scared, overwhelmed, and confused with where to go, what type of therapy you (or your loved one) needs, and who can provide the best treatment. While there are many types of therapies, there are three that are commonly used for both mental health disorder treatment and substance abuse treatment. 

It’s important to note that when a mental health disorder occurs with a substance or alcohol use disorder, it’s called co-occurring disorders. NAMI reports that 10.2 million American adults have this type of co-occurring disorder. If you believe you or your loved one may have a co-occurring mental health and substance use disorder (SUD), it’s vital to keep this in mind as you seek treatment. 

Futures Recovery Healthcare is proud to be on the front lines of treatment for SUDs, AUDs, and now mental health disorders. Futures has recently opened a unit on their inclusive 9-acres campus solely focused on the treatment of mental health disorders. Additionally, if you or a loved one have a co-occurring substance abuse issue, Futures’ addiction treatment programs are well-versed and successful in providing individualized, evidence-based treatment for this as well. 

Anyone who considers treatment for a substance use issue or a mental health issue often deals with a lot of different emotions. On one hand, you desperately want to seek help for the issue, yet on the other hand there is a lot of fear of the unknown. For these reasons, it’s important to understand a bit about the most commonly used treatment therapies for both addiction treatment and mental health disorders. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT

CBT or ‘talk’ therapy as it’s known, is one of the most commonly used types of therapy in the nation. This type of psychotherapy is considered to be ‘solutions-oriented’ and was founded by psychiatrist Aaron Beck in the 1960’s. As Beck was disillusioned with the typical ‘Freudian psychoanalysis’, he sought to find a type of therapy focused more on experience and hypothesis. Thus emerged CBT. 

The focus of CBT is to examine and change certain emotions, feelings, thoughts, and behaviors that are dysfunctional. This is accomplished by taking a look at the irrational thoughts, emotions, and behaviors then implementing specific strategies to replace them with healthier ones. 

CBT is well-received by adults, children, and adolescents and has been used successfully for all of these groups. Just as every individual is different so too are their needs for both mental health and substance use disorder treatment. Not all therapies discussed are appropriate for all individuals or for all types of mental health disorders

CBT has been found to be most successful in helping people with the following:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Eating disorders
  • Sleep disorders
  • Phobias
  • Substance use disorders 
  • More 

It’s important to realize that people who don’t have a mental health or substance use disorder can also benefit from CBT. Analyzing current coping strategies and replacing them with healthier ones is something most people could benefit from. Everyone faces stressful life situations, CBT enables individuals to learn to cope in ways that are more beneficial to themselves and others during these times of stress. 

This type of therapy is often used because it enables practitioners (counselors or therapists) and patients to quickly identify issues and develop strategies to cope with specific situations and triggers. For most, the course of CBT is between five to 20 sessions usually occurring on a weekly basis or more often for acute situations. 

CBT can be effective in:

  • Coping with emotional trauma
  • Managing and preventing relapse of mental health disorder symptoms
  • Dealing with grief and loss 
  • Finding skills to deal with emotions and stressful life situations
  • Managing chronic physical issues as well as acute medical illnesses
  • Fixing relationship issues
  • Improving communication with others 

The specifics related to CBT can vary between person to person. This is dependent on factors including whether the treatment is on an inpatient or outpatient basis, the individual’s specific mental health disorder diagnosis, presence of any co-occurring substance use or alcohol use disorders, insurance provider parameters, availability of both the patient and therapist for treatment frequency. 

What to Expect with CBT 

Depending on some of the above mentioned factors the initial pieces of CBT may vary slightly. For example, if you are seeking inpatient treatment versus outpatient treatment some of these first steps may look slightly different, however, there are some general things you can expect with CBT. 

Initially, your therapist will learn more about you. This includes your current and past emotional and mental health, any mental health disorder diagnosis, your treatment goals, and more. In addition, it is during this initial stage that you will learn more about your therapist. Specifics such as your therapist’s individual approach to counseling, how many sessions you may need, goals for treatment, length of each session, if medication should be included, other therapy options, and more. 

While some of this may not be accomplished in just one session, within the first few sessions you should begin to get a clear idea of what therapy will look like for you. Once you or your loved one begins to ‘dig in’ to therapy, specific issues, feelings, thoughts, or troubles will be discussed and this ‘goal-oriented’ therapy will work to find solutions and strategies to cope in healthier ways. Often, therapists assign ‘homework’ to help you translate what you’re learning into day to day life. 

This type of therapy has been proven to be very helpful in helping individuals live happier lives. A second type of therapy which has become a ‘go-to’ for mental health disorder treatment is dialectical behavioral therapy or DBT. Let’s explore this popular therapy based on CBT. 

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy or DBT

Dialectical behavioral therapy or DBT is based on CBT but places greater focus on emotional and social aspects of the individual’s experience. Developed in the 1980s by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D. to treat people with borderline personality disorder or BPD, this type of therapy focuses on helping patients to acquire new coping strategies and skills to deal with intense emotions and function better in relationships. 

DBT, unlike CBT, works on developing and improving skills in four key areas:

  • Mindfulness
  • Distress tolerance
  • Emotional regulation
  • Interpersonal effectiveness

While DBT was originally developed to treat people with BPD, it has also been shown to be effective in treating other mental health disorders including:

DBT works for individuals who are motivated to improve their abilities to manage emotions and tolerate distress. And, as the name suggests, the dialectic aspect of this therapy encourages the balancing of two seemingly opposite perspectives. Many with not only BPD but also other mental health disorders have become accustomed to ‘black and white’ thinking. Meaning, it is hard for these individuals to live in balance with their emotions. They often engage in ‘all or nothing’ type of thinking. 

DBT works to help individuals see a ‘both-and’ perspective, as opposed to an ‘either-or’ point of view commonly found in many people. At the core of this philosophy, is acceptance and change. 

What to Expect with DBT

As mentioned with CBT, there are several factors which influence exactly how DBT will look, however, these are mainly based around frequency and duration of therapy. Generally, DBT includes both individual and group therapy sessions. 

In one on one sessions, therapists work with individuals to learn new skills, apply them in daily life, ensure all therapeutic needs are being addressed, and strategize approaches to overcome obstacles that may arise. 

During group therapy, participants interact with one another to learn and practice newly acquired skills. Group members share their experiences and provide support to one another as they work to learn and employ healthier coping skills. During both group and individual therapy sessions therapists may assign homework. Much of the homework focuses on practicing elements of the four key areas of focus; mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. 

The times of each of the sessions (individual and group) vary as well as the length of treatment (usually several months at minimum). 

Whether you or a loved one is living with major depressive disorder, an anxiety disorder, substance abuse, or another mental health issue, CBT and DBT can help. As bleak as life may seem in the midst of untreated mental health disorders it’s important to realize there is help. It only takes one step to begin your journey of healing with a happier life awaiting you. 

How to Choose a Mental Health Disorder Treatment Program 

There are thousands of both CBT and DBT therapists across the nation. But as with everything else, not all therapists can meet the needs of all individuals. When it comes to either one of these therapies, it’s vital to find not only a therapist but a practice that has the ability to address all of your mental health needs. 

One of the first steps is to determine, as best you’re able, if you would benefit most from inpatient or outpatient mental health treatment. Many times if you or a loved one is able to go for inpatient treatment this is ideal. However, if you are not, outpatient treatment can be just as effective. 

Next, find a treatment program or therapist who is experienced and credentialed in treating the type or types of mental health disorders you or your loved one has. It’s important to review the following for each therapist or treatment center:


Therapists hold varying degrees from masters degrees to Ph.D.s. Finding what best meets your needs is important. If you are considering medications along with therapy, it’s probably best to look for a therapist or center with psychiatrists on staff who can also prescribe medication. 


Be sure that the center or therapists you are considering not only meet state licensing and certification requirements but also have met all requirements for their specific area of practice such as CBT or DBT. 


Finally, it’s important to consider the specific needs you have and if the therapist or center you’re reviewing has experience in these areas. For example, if you have any type of trauma or PTSD you may want a trauma-certified therapist. 

It’s crucial to keep in mind that no matter what type of mental health disorder or substance use disorder you have, what you put into your therapy is aligned with what you will get out. For that reason, it’s imperative to keep the following in mind no matter what type of treatment you are in:

  • Be honest and open
  • Stick with your treatment plan
  • Do all homework or exercises between sessions.
  • Talk to your therapist if you feel things aren’t working
  • Be patient

Living with and loving someone with a mental health disorder, including substance abuse, is difficult. But there is hope and help just a phone call away. You don’t have to go it alone anymore. Futures Recovery Healthcare not only treats substance or alcohol use disorders but now also welcomes anyone with another mental health disorder to begin their journey of healing with our caring, compassionate team. 

Contact us today at 866-804-2098 and start healing tomorrow. 


Experience lasting change and receive the support you need now and over the years to come.

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