By Rachel Morici, LPC
Do you struggle with your emotions? Do you find it difficult to interact effectively with others? Are you making self-destructive choices in your life? Do you feel out of control? If you find yourself struggling with these issues you are not alone. DBT can help.
What is DBT?
Dialectical Behavior Therapy, also known as DBT, combines cognitive behavioral techniques designed to change behavior and mindfulness to promote focus and a sense of self. Participants learn and practice skills to better identify and manage their emotions, control their impulses, handle difficult life events, improve their ability to interact effectively with others and gain a greater ability to make positive rather than self-destructive choices in their lives.
Why do some people have more difficulty managing their emotions?
According to Dr. Marsha Linehan, who developed DBT, some people are born more emotionally sensitive than others. Not only do they feel emotions more quickly and intensely than other people, but it also takes them longer to “come down” from an emotion. That can work out fine if you learned skills for coping with strong emotions early in life within your family or elsewhere. This means that people around you “validated” you or acknowledged the reasonableness of your feelings. They also helped you learn ways to soothe yourself, and/or showed you what to do with strong emotions by demonstrating skillful behavior when they themselves had strong emotions. However, if you were raised without the opportunity to learn to cope skillfully with strong emotion, being emotionally sensitive can make life quite difficult.
Who does DBT help?
DBT is appropriate for those who have difficulties with:
- Addictive Behavior
- Anger Management
- Eating Disorders
- Impulse Control
- Interpersonal Skills
- Mood Swings
- Self-destructive Behavior
How does it work?
How you react to intense feelings can change. DBT has been proven effective in treating a variety of mental health issues characterized by problems in emotion. There are four distinct areas that make-up the DBT skill set, which are the foundation of the treatment. Briefly, these skill areas are:
- Mindfulness: Being in the present moment rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. It cultivates an awareness of thoughts, emotions and present-moment experiences; learning to see reality as it is, as opposed to our perception of reality.
- Emotion Regulation: Understanding the function of emotions, learning to label emotions and learning ways to deescalate or change painful emotions.
- Interpersonal Effectiveness: Ways to get your needs met without damaging relationships.
- Distress Tolerance: Ways to tolerate distressing emotions without making the situation worse.
For more information, practice exercises and skills review, please visit DBT Self Help
Are you interested in learning these lifesaving skills? Pennock Center for Counseling will be offering a 9-week class, Introduction to DBT Skills, beginning Monday, June 1st! If you have questions or would like to register, please contact me at 303-655-9065, Ext. 2.