True Life Care Mental Health New Jersey

Dialectical Behavior Therapy OCD

Learn more about the benefits of dialectical behavior therapy OCD and how to find a treatment center near you here. Please contact our admission office about our dialectical behavior therapy OCD in New Jersey.


Dialectical behavior therapy OCD is a type of psychotherapy. It got developed to treat borderline personality disorder.1
But, its principles and techniques adapted over the years. It now applies to other mental health conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This form of treatment is available at mental health facilities such as True Life Care.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy OCD New Jersey

Overview of DBT for OCD

Dialectical behavior therapy OCD combines the core principles of DBT with various strategies. These strategies address the unique challenges faced by people with OCD. It integrates elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness practices.
The combination helps people develop skills for:
  • Emotion regulation
  • Distress tolerance
  • Interpersonal effectiveness
  • Mindfulness

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition. It’s characterized by recurrent and intrusive thoughts.
These thoughts may include images or urges (obsessions) that cause distress and anxiety. They’re obsessions often accompanied by repetitive behaviors (compulsions). The people feel driven to perform them to reduce distress or prevent feared outcomes.

Overview of OCD

Below is an overview of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Obsessions in OCD

Common obsessions in OCD include concerns about:
  • Cleanliness
  • Symmetry
  • Harm or danger
There are also intrusive thoughts related to unacceptable subjects.

Repetitive Actions

The compulsions are often repetitive actions. They aim to reduce anxiety or prevent a feared event. These actions include:
  • Excessive hand washing
  • Checking locks 
  • Counting
  • Arranging objects in a particular order

Recognizable, but Hard to Control

People with OCD often recognize that their obsessions and compulsions are excessive. But, they find it difficult to control or resist the urge to perform them.

Interferes with Daily Life

Obsessions and compulsions can consume a significant amount of time. It often interferes with:
  • Daily activities
  • Relationships
  • General functioning

Chronic and Variable

OCD is a chronic condition that can vary in severity. The symptoms can wax and wane over time. If left untreated, it can cause significant distress. It can also lead to impairment in various areas of life.
But, effective treatments can help people manage their symptoms. Several mental health facilities such as True Life Care offer this form of treatment. This treatment aims to improve quality of life.

Overview of DBT Principles and Strategies for Treating OCD

Below is an overview of the techniques applied in dialectical behavior therapy OCD.

Cognitive Restructuring

Dialectical behavior therapy OCD incorporates cognitive restructuring techniques. The goal is to challenge and reframe unhelpful thoughts. These thoughts are often specific to OCD.

How Cognitive Restructuring Works

People learn to identify cognitive distortions related to their obsessions. Some of these may include overestimating risks or catastrophizing outcomes.
Therapists at facilities such as True Life Care guide patients through thought challenges. It helps them develop more realistic thinking patterns about their obsessions.

Mindfulness Training

Mindfulness is a central aspect of dialectical behavior therapy OCD. It involves cultivating nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment.

Mindfulness Training for OCD

For OCD, mindfulness helps patients observe their obsessions and associated anxiety. They can do so without reacting on impulse.

Effectiveness of DBT

According to a study in the Netherlands, 53% of BPD patients met the criteria for substance use disorder. Findings showed that DBT patients had a huge reduction in alcohol use and increased impulse control.2
People can reduce distress and break the cycle of compulsive behaviors. They can do so by developing a nonreactive stance toward thoughts and emotions.

Exposure and Response Prevention

Here, health professionals integrate mindfulness with exposure and response prevention (ERP) techniques.

How ERP Works

Patients learn to approach their obsessive thoughts with a mindful, nonjudgmental attitude. They practice observing their obsessions without engaging in compulsive behaviors. Also, they practice without trying to suppress their thoughts.
Mindfulness helps people develop acceptance and tolerance for the discomfort triggered by their obsessions.

Emotion Regulation Skills Training

Mental health practitioners often use dialectical behavior therapy OCD skills training. These facilities use this training to address OCD-related challenges.

Types of Skills Learned

Patients learn skills for:
  • Emotion regulation
  • Distress tolerance
  • Interpersonal effectiveness
These skills help patients manage the distress and anxiety associated with OCD. Here, the patients develop healthier coping strategies. They learn to navigate interpersonal relationships affected by the disorder.

Validation Strategies

DBT therapists provide validation and acceptance of the person’s experiences and emotions. They balance validation with challenging unhelpful OCD-related beliefs and behaviors.
This dialectical approach fosters a compassionate and nonjudgmental therapeutic relationship. Dialectical behavior therapy OCD also encourages change and growth.

Values Clarification

Dialectical behavior therapy OCD explores the person’s core values. It helps them align their actions with those values. Therapists encourage patients to identify their values and set meaningful goals beyond OCD. This process increases motivation for change. It also provides a sense of purpose and direction.

Behavioral Activation

Dialectical behavior therapy OCD includes behavioral activation techniques to counteract avoidance behaviors. Here, the patients engage in activities they’ve been avoiding due to OCD-related fears or compulsions.

Benefits of Behavioral Activation

This gradual exposure helps people learn more about their feared outcomes. It lets the person know they can tolerate the associated anxiety without engaging in compulsive rituals.

Standalone Treatment for OCD or Combination Therapy?

The treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can involve standalone therapy approaches. It may also involve a combination of different therapies.
This often depends on the person’s needs and the severity of their symptoms. Both standalone therapy and combination therapy can be effective in treating OCD.

Standalone Therapy

DBT is a widely recognized standalone therapy for OCD. It focuses on identifying and challenging irrational thoughts and beliefs. It enables the person to confront feared situations and reduce reliance on compulsions.
DBT alone can lead to significant improvements in OCD symptoms for many people.

Combination Therapy

In some cases, combining medication and therapy can benefit OCD treatment. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are often prescribed for OCD.

What Do These Medications Do?

These medications help to regulate serotonin levels in the brain. Several facilities like True Life Care often combine this form of therapy.

Benefits of Medication and Therapy

Combining medicine with therapy can improve treatment outcomes. It is best for people with more severe symptoms or when therapy alone has not provided enough relief.

Integration of DBT Strategies

Dialectical behavior therapy OCD principles and strategies are also integrated into OCD treatment. DBT focuses on:
  • Emotion regulation
  • Distress tolerance
  • Mindfulness
  • Interpersonal effectiveness

How Do These Strategies Help?

It helps to address obsessions and compulsions. DBT may get used as a standalone therapy or in combination with other approaches to treat OCD.
It helps when there are co-occurring mental health conditions. It’s also good when there are difficulties with emotional regulation.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and commitment therapy combines acceptance strategies with mindfulness and values-based behavior change techniques. It helps people develop acceptance of their obsessions.
This form of therapy also teaches them to commit to living a fulfilling life in line with their values. The goal is to do so despite OCD symptoms. ACT can get used alone or in combination with other therapies for OCD treatment.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy OCD: Common Challenges and Symptoms DBT Addresses

The following are some of the challenges and symptoms of OCD addressed by DBT.


Dialectical behavior therapy OCD helps people develop skills to manage and cope with intrusive and distressing obsessions. These may include:
  • Recurring thoughts
  • Images
  • Urges that cause anxiety or discomfort

How DBT Helps with Obsessions

DBT teaches patients to approach these obsessions with mindfulness and acceptance. This is instead of engaging in compulsive behaviors to reduce distress.


Dialectical behavior therapy OCD addresses the repetitive behaviors that people with OCD feel. These people feel driven to perform in response to their obsessions. DBT focuses on reducing reliance on compulsions.
It aims to break the cycle of compulsive behavior. It breaks the cycle through exposure and response prevention techniques.

Emotional Dysregulation

People with OCD often experience intense emotions like anxiety, fear, and guilt. These emotions often relate to and lead to their obsessions and compulsions.

How DBT Helps with Emotional Dysregulation

Dialectical behavior therapy OCD helps patients develop emotion regulation skills. These skills help them manage and tolerate these intense emotions. Facilities such as True Life Care use these skills to reduce the need for compulsive behaviors as a way to cope.

Distress Intolerance

OCD can lead to high levels of distress and discomfort. This occurs when people can’t engage in their compulsions.

How Dialectical Behavior Therapy OCD Helps with Distress Intolerance

DBT provides distress tolerance skills to help patients tolerate and manage distressing situations. These skills also help them manage emotions and urges. The goal is to do so without resorting to compulsive behaviors.

Black-and-White Thinking

People with OCD often engage in rigid, all-or-nothing thinking patterns. This leads to heightened anxiety and difficulty finding balance.

How DBT Helps with Black-and-White Thinking

Dialectical behavior therapy OCD encourages them to adopt more flexible and balanced thinking patterns. It challenges the extremes and finds a middle ground.

Interpersonal Challenges

OCD can impact interpersonal relationships. This is due to its time-consuming nature and preoccupation with obsessions.

How DBT Helps with Interpersonal Challenges

DBT addresses interpersonal challenges by providing skills for effective communication. It also provides skills for assertiveness and setting boundaries. Dialectical behavior therapy OCD helps people navigate relationships affected by OCD.

Self-Acceptance and Compassion

Dialectical behavior therapy OCD promotes self-acceptance and self-compassion. It helps people develop a more compassionate and nonjudgmental attitude toward their symptoms.
This can reduce:
  • Self-criticism
  • Shame
  • Excessive self-blame often associated with OCD

Unique Adaptations or Modifications for Different Subtypes of OCD

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can manifest in different subtypes. Each of these subtypes has distinct obsessions and compulsions.
When applying therapy to different OCD subtypes, certain adaptations may be necessary. This modification addresses the specific challenges and symptoms associated with each subtype.
Below are some examples.

Contamination/Washing OCD

People with contamination/washing OCD often experience intense fear and anxiety. These fears are often related to germs or contaminants. DBT can include a stronger focus on distress tolerance skills. It helps individuals tolerate distress from exposure to contaminated objects or situations.

Checking OCD

Checking OCD involves repeated and excessive checking behaviors. This gets driven by the fear of harm or negative consequences.

How Dialectical Behavior Therapy Helps with Checking

DBT may include behavioral activation techniques. This is to encourage people to engage in activities they avoid due to checking. Exposure planning can also get tailored to specific checking behaviors. This aims to reduce the need for compulsive checking.

Symmetry/Ordering OCD

Here, the individual needs perfect:
  • Alignment
  • Balance
  • Order

How DBT Helps with Symmetry/Ordering OCD

DBT can incorporate cognitive restructuring techniques to challenge perfectionistic beliefs. It helps people develop a more flexible and balanced perspective on order and symmetry.

Intrusive Thoughts OCD

Intrusive thoughts or obsessions can be distressing and shameful. DBT places a strong emphasis on mindfulness and acceptance. It helps patients develop a nonjudgmental and accepting stance toward their intrusive thoughts. This reduces the urge to engage in compulsive behaviors to neutralize them.

Hoarding OCD

Hoarding OCD involves difficulty discarding possessions and excessive accumulation. DBT can incorporate values clarification exercises to help individuals identify their core values.

How DBT Helps with Hoarding

It helps to set goals for their lives beyond hoarding. This process can enhance motivation for change and provide a sense of purpose. This may support efforts to address hoarding behaviors.

The Use of Mindfulness to Remain Present and Nonjudgmental

Mindfulness to remain present and nonjudgmental is beneficial for people with OCD. Here’s how mindfulness can get applied to help individuals with OCD.

Acceptance of Inner Experiences

Mindfulness teaches people to accept their inner experiences. It includes thoughts, sensations, and emotions without trying to change them.

What Does This Mean in the Context of OCD?

In the context of OCD, this means acknowledging the presence of intrusive thoughts. It also acknowledges obsessions and allows them to arise. It lets them pass without trying to control them through compulsive behaviors. 
By accepting these experiences, patients reduce their struggle with the content of OCD. They can develop a more balanced relationship with their thoughts and emotions.

Nonjudgmental Observation

Mindfulness encourages people to observe their experiences without judgment. This is helpful for patients with OCD who often engage in self-criticism about their obsessions or the presence of intrusive thoughts.

How Does This Help?

By adopting a nonjudgmental stance, patients can cultivate self-compassion. It reduces the emotional distress associated with OCD symptoms. This nonjudgmental observation also extends to acknowledging and accepting the temporary and ever-changing nature of thoughts and emotions.

Present-Moment Awareness

Mindfulness involves cultivating an intentional focus on the present moment.

How Does Present-Moment Awareness Help with OCD?

For people with OCD, this means directing attention to their current thoughts and emotions. It directs attention without getting caught up in the content of obsessions. It seeks to remove the need to engage in compulsive behaviors.
Being present allows people to observe their OCD-related thoughts and sensations. They can do so without reacting impulsively or becoming overwhelmed.

Coping with Uncertainty

OCD often involves a fear of uncertainty and a desire for control. Mindfulness practice encourages people to embrace uncertainty. It helps them let go of the need for absolute certainty or control.
By developing a more open mind toward uncertainty, people can reduce anxiety. They can reduce the compulsive need for certainty or prevent perceived threats.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy OCD in New Jersey

Success Stories Showing the Effectiveness of DBT in Treating OCD Symptoms

Case studies and research show the effectiveness of dialectical behavior therapy OCD. DBT is an evidence-based therapy approach. It’s used to treat several mental health conditions.3
According to the Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, DBT helps curtail emotional intensity. This makes it more effective in treating OCD.4

Dialectical Behavior Therapy OCD at True Life Care

Dialectical behavior therapy OCD helps people develop strategies to cope with distressing situations. It operates on the assumption that some people struggle to manage their emotions.
DBT is a comprehensive therapy that combines elements of CBT with mindfulness practice. It also emphasizes the therapeutic relationship between the patient and therapist during treatment.

About True Life Care

True Life Care is a mental health facility. We offer a structured, safe environment that aids recovery. Here, you can receive individualized treatments according to your needs.
We provide compassionate, extensively trained healthcare professionals that will cater to your needs 24/7. We also offer an aftercare program which helps to prevent relapse.

Contact True Life Care Today

Reach out to True Life Care today for more informations about our dialectical behavior therapy OCD in New Jersey.




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Questions About Treatment?

If you or a loved one have questions regarding recovery, or are to begin regaining autonomy over your health and well-being, don’t hesitate to reach out to True Life Care for support. We are here to empower you to lead the happy, healthy, and fulfilling life you deserve.