DBT Skill #2 Emotion Regulation
Emotion Regulation Is…
The second foundational skill taught in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is emotion regulation. Emotion regulation helps patients manage negative and overwhelming emotions while increasing their positive experiences. Patients learn that negative emotions are not bad and do not need to be avoided. Instead, they learn that negative emotions are a normal part of life. Patients learn to acknowledge and then let go of negative emotion so that their feelings do not control their behaviors. The following are some ways that therapists help patients gain emotion regulation:
PLEASE is an acronym that sets guidelines on how patients should take care of their physical health since our physical health is closely tied to our mental health. When we are sick, exhausted, or otherwise unhealthy, we are more likely to experience negative emotions. When we take care of our bodies, we are more likely to have positive emotions.
- PhysicaL illness: If you are sick or injured, get proper treatment.
- Eating: Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
- Avoid mood-altering drugs: Do not take non-prescribed medication or drugs. They can be harmful to your body and can make your mood unpredictable.
- Sleep: Do not sleep too much or too little. Teenagers should get 8-10 hours of sleep each night.
- Exercise: Regular exercise will make you healthier and happier. Exercise will improve your body image, release endorphins, and help you be more active overall.
Patients build mastery. This means that patients engage in activities that make them feel competent and effective so that they don’t feed into feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Building mastery is about committing to something and seeing it through. Building mastery often means returning to a hobby or interest that they previously abandoned.
Opposite Action and Problem Solving
Opposite action is used when patients have an unjustified emotion, which is an emotion that doesn’t belong in the current situation. Patients use opposite action by doing the opposite of what their urges tell them to do at the moment. It is a tool that brings them out of an unwanted or unjustified emotion by replacing it with the emotion that is opposite. When their negative emotion is justified, patients learn to use problem-solving.
In our next blog post, we will discuss the third core DBT skill, which is distress tolerance.