DBT for Emotional Regulation
Written by: Bhaswati Dash

Emotion is the way we experience feelings, such as happiness, sadness, anger, or fear. Emotions are complex psychological and physiological responses that play a crucial role in shaping our behavior, decision-making, and social interaction. Emotional Regulation refers to the ability to be aware of our feelings, understand why we feel a certain way, and find healthy ways to respond.

Some people are very sensitive to emotional stimuli, and as a result, they react intensely to lesser amounts of stimulation. Such people react quickly to emotional stimuli, and their emotional excitation fades slowly. Due to this emotional dysregulation, their behavior, interpersonal relationships, self perception and perception towards others get impacted, which again leads to emotional dysregulation. 

Individuals who face difficulty in regulating emotions may benefit from Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). DBT equips individuals with the skills they need to achieve balanced emotional well-being and live a more fulfilling life.

DBT emphasizes “mindfulness” practice. Mindfulness develops awareness of emotion, awareness of behavior, and awareness of one’s surroundings, allowing people to observe and accept their current experience without being judgmental. DBT therapists help individuals understand their patterns of emotion regulation, their impact on various aspects of lives,  recognize them, and learn healthy skills to express emotions and cope with distressing situations. “Emotion regulation skills” learned through DBT help people deal with their vulnerability to rapid and intense emotional reactions.

People with emotional dysregulation have a lower level of tolerance for distress. A lower distress tolerance level impacts one’s ability to make decisions, which again leads to impulsive or self-destructive behavior. DBT places strong emphasis on enhancing the “distress tolerance skill”. Distress tolerance skills help individuals navigate challenging circumstances and emotions until they are able to respond in an effective way. As a result, such skills help them manage impulsive behaviors and self-destructive tendencies.

Another main focus of DBT is to improve interpersonal skills and help people develop healthy relationships. The “interpersonal effectiveness skills” that one acquires through DBT improve Individuals’ communication, assertiveness, and problem-solving abilities, helping them to manage relationships in a healthier and more adaptable manner. DBT also teaches how to establish healthy boundaries so that one may take care of oneself and have healthier relationships. When disputes occur, DBT skills assist in dealing with them constructively and finding solutions that work.

DBT boosts resilience by providing individuals with practical skills for navigating life’s problems, improving well-being, and creating a more fulfilling and balanced existence.

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