I am currently in an Intensive Outpatient Therapy Program (IOP), and there are lots of different acronyms thrown at me on a daily basis. This includes the acronyms that correspond to the different therapy styles used in the program. For the uninitiated, this post is a summary of three different therapy styles that are in some ways very similar and in other ways very different in their approach to mental health treatment.
I also created a Therapy Cheat Sheet for an even quicker overview.
CBT - The first is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which is one of the most well established of the skills-based talk therapy treatments used by psychiatrists. The core premise is if one has negative thought processes, their thoughts can be corrected toward more positive thought processes. These more positive thoughts should lead to a better mood and higher levels of functioning. The whole methodology and skills taught in CBT are meant to consistently promote positive thought processes as those positive thoughts will lead to better-coping choices in the face of situations that would typically cause depression, anxiety or other negative mood states. CBT is actually used for a variety of different mental health conditions beyond just depression and anxiety.
DBT - The next therapy method is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) which is useful for patients with self-harm and self-destructive symptoms. There are four modules in DBT all working together to give the patient a better mood and higher levels of functioning. The modules are mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation and interpersonal effectiveness. There are a crazy amount of acronyms for skills taught in DBT, but the acronyms are actually quite catchy. One of my favorites is DEAR MAN which is how to get what you want from another person (useful for those who are too passive or aggressive in their communication styles).
ACT - The final method is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). This method is based on some fascinating philosophies surrounding the study of language and how using language to identify emotions can be to our detriment. Within ACT there are six principles - thought defusion, acceptance, mindfulness, self as context, values and committed action. ACT also subscribes to the notion that I summarize as “fuck your feelings.” Your behaviors are supposed to align with your values. Whatever thoughts and emotions you have should not be an impediment to values based behavior.
So with all three methods -
They all have their pros:
As you can see all three of these are pretty much doing the same things. You are learning skill sets that you can use to alter, adjust, and amend your negative thoughts and emotions so that you choose healthier and more positive behaviors. I think that is why the group therapy center I attend draws from all three of these methodologies.
For more information on all these check out the following:
The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook: Practical DBT Exercises for Learning Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation & Distress Tolerance (by Matthew McKay, Jeffrey C. Wood, and Jeffrey Brantley)
The CBT Toolbox: A Workbook for Clients and Clinicians (by Jeff Riggenbach)
ACT Made Simple: An Easy-To-Read Primer on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (by Russ Harris)