Veterans and Substance Abuse Struggles in San Diego, CA
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Mental Health and Wellness

Dialectical Behavior Therapy in San Diego

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a practice that utilizes self-reflection and interpersonal skill-building exercises. It is often used by therapists to help veterans regulate their emotions and restrain self-destructive behavior patterns.

Though it was originally intended to treat borderline personality disorder (BPD), its use has been adapted to treat a variety of mental health conditions. DBT techniques combine traditional cognitive-behavioral techniques for controlling emotions with added concepts of mindful awareness, distress tolerance and acceptance.

Conventional dialectical behavior therapy courses are at least six months long, but at Solara Mental Health, we offer a shortened, intensified structure designed to address immediate needs and build a strong foundation for long-term recovery.

DBT Stepping Stones: The 4 Skill Modules

Dialectical behavior therapy is made up of four skills training modules: mindfulness, distress intolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. These psychosocial skills combined work to improve self-control and focus, develop interpersonal skills, promote self-awareness, and cultivate the ability to both manage and express emotions healthily.


Mindfulness is the basis of all exercises in DBT. Through a combination of didactic therapy and meditation, veterans practice self-awareness and learn to focus on the present. They are encouraged to watch, describe, and participate in their environment without judging or overthinking.

Veterans also practice letting thoughts emerge in and leave their minds in a similarly neutral way. This helps them relax the mind and increases emotional stability, helping them avoid acting out in a destructive way.

Distress Tolerance

DBT does not aim to help people avoid distressing emotions; rather, it aims to promote acceptance of painful situations and feelings and appropriate reactions to them. Through expert clinical care, veterans will learn concrete skills to relax during times of stress, learning to see difficult situations in less overwhelming ways and react appropriately and healthily.

Distress tolerance skills work on the patient’s ability to accept reality and provide a guideline for responding to painful circumstances of life in a healthy way.

Interpersonal Effectiveness

Interpersonal effectiveness strives to help veterans develop and maintain healthy, mutually fulfilling relationships. During this component of DBT, veterans learn what their own interpersonal needs are and how to have those needs met without sacrificing integrity, equality, or self-confidence.

This involves respecting others and listening to communicate effectively. Veterans also learn effective techniques for managing social conflict, balancing assertiveness and flexibility, and learning to say “no” to others when needed.

Emotion Regulation

As its name would suggest, the emotion regulation component of DBT focuses on coping with negative emotions or traumatic experiences. These skills help people understand their emotions, therefore decreasing the intensity of negative feelings.

These certain skills involve:

  • Learning how to understand and name emotions
  • Changing unwanted emotions through the use of opposite-reactions, fact-checking, and problem solving
  • Reducing vulnerability by planning coping mechanisms in advance
  • Managing extreme conditions by use of mindfulness to remain stable

Is DBT right for you?

Though DBT’s original intent was to treat those with BPD who have thoughts of suicide and self-harm, it can successfully be adapted to treat other mental health disorders.

DBT is considered an effective means to treat:

Get DBT at Solara Mental Health

At Solara Health, we help veterans practice the four skills of DBT during both individual therapy and group therapy sessions. Individual therapy allows for focused one-on-one attention with expert clinicians; group therapy fosters a safe, judgment-free space for veterans to come together with peers to explore their experiences and practice both emotional and social techniques.

The result is a breaking away from impulsive behaviors and damaging thoughts that lead to stronger relationships, increased emotional strength, and lasting psychological healing.

For more information about dialectical behavior therapy, or about other treatments offered at Solara Health, please contact us.

Solara’s Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Veterans

Self-reflection and interpersonal skill-building exercises are significant components of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Therapists often use it to help veterans regulate their emotions and prevent self-destructive behavior. Understanding each veteran’s specific diagnosis is crucial for the therapy, that’s why at Solara Mental Health San Diego our staff of professionals is ready to assist each patient accordingly through a personalized treatment plan.

Solara Mental Health is VA contracted as a community care provider. Once authorized, housing, transportation, and accommodations will be provided.

What Our Clients Say

R.M. – Father

If not for Solara Mental Health, I am almost positive that our daughter would not be as advanced in her treatment, and would not have the almost miraculous confident and positive outlook that she has.


The Solara program is truly amazing. I’ve never had more clarity or more good energy in my entire life. The attention the physicians and the therapists gave me was outstanding. I feel like they truly understood and addressed my issues, which had consumed my life for years. Thank you all.


The therapists and counselors and really whole team were extremely beneficial to me and my understanding of my issues. The treatment plan they developed was exactly what I needed


I have never felt better than I do now, since completing your program. The truly caring and supportive staff and the intensive program changed my life. What a neat place to stay for treatment - I love Pacific Beach! I have learned skills and behavior to move forward with my life thanks to you.


Even though I’m not religious, I realized when I got sober that for the first time in my life I wanted to explore my spiritual side. I benefited hugely from the individual spiritual sessions that I had with Chris. I’m really grateful for that aspect of the whole treatment experience.

Watson Family

Solara’s program was such a positive experience for our mom (and for us)! She had become almost impossible to deal with. Your entire staff was phenomenally supportive and kind and patient with her. We feel like we’ve got our mom back, now.


The Solara Treatment Program was a life-changing experience for me. To be able to heal in such a beautiful, peaceful environment, with such a terrific treatment team, was so amazingly positive. I have found my true self, again. I thank you and my family thanks you for helping me become the person I was meant to be.


We are so grateful to you for the treatment and care you provided our daughter. She is doing unbelievably well now thanks to your program. We will gladly tell anyone we encounter that needs treatment about the wonderful work you do at Solara.


Solara was truly a life-changing experience for me and for our children, because of what you did for my wife! The treatment team was phenomenally supportive and perfect for helping her with her anxiety and depression. We are all now moving forward to put our lives back together and it started with you all in Pacific Beach. Thank you for what you do.

M.P. – Father

Your program provided our daughter with the most masterful therapist we have ever encountered (and we have used many).  She has had an unbelievable ability to see the long-term trajectory of our daughter’s treatment and to approach her treatment in stages that fit where my daughter’s development was.  We can’t say enough positive about her.


The program has given me the tools I needed to really gain stability. For the first time in years - maybe for as long as I can remember, actually, I’m learning how to cope and manage my stressors and triggers. I now believe that I can find some relief and happiness.

Michelle Family

I want to thank you and the entire staff and support system at Solara for taking such good care of my sister. On behalf of my entire family, we want you all to understand that your patience and kindness stretches further than you can see… Thank you, again and again, from the bottom of my heart.