A Treatment for Managing Emotions
DBT is a treatment for people who have problems regulating or managing their emotions to such an extent that it severely impacts their quality of life. Do you have trouble managing your emotions? One way to know is to look at your reactions- even if they are private. When someone has difficulty managing emotions emotions seem like they “hit like a ton of bricks”. For many people who struggle to regulate emotions it seems as if emotions last a long time, are especially strong, and hard to recover from. Some people just have a greater sensitivity to emotions.
CriticalPath Counseling offers Dialectical Behavior therapy (DBT) which is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that is empirically supported with over 19 randomized controlled trials. It is an emotion focused, mostly behavioral therapy which emphasizes emotional learning and promotes the teaching of skills in distress tolerance, mindfulness, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness to help individuals who, for many reasons, may not have developed core skills to tolerate and regulate strong emotions.
DBT seeks first to help individuals develop the ability to notice emotions and their associated body sensations and action urges so that they can then intervene before engaging in harmful behaviors. For individuals without any self-harm or other impulsive behavior, DBT also serves to help expand healthy emotional experiencing so that clients can experience joy and contentment in their lives.
DBT also emphasizes improving social interactions- in particular, responding to stress and conflict- and helps clients develop productive and effective strategies for getting their needs met without causing crisis and creating interpersonal struggles.
DBT theory suggests that some people are born with more emotional sensitivity than others. This phenomenon, coupled with an invalidating social environment, can cause a high degree of emotional reactivity. DBT was originally designed to help treat people with borderline personality disorder, but is now used to treat a wide range of concerns and mood disorders.
A DBT program such as we offer at CriticalPath Counseling in San Jose differs from traditional psychotherapy in that it includes individual Behavioral Therapy and a DBT Skills Training Group Class and in between session telephone sessions to help clients generalize skills in their everyday life.
It is a common misunderstanding of DBT that the treatment doesn’t involve any talking or understanding of one’s past. In fact, most DBT Therapists would agree that a person’s past influences their emotional and social learning. However, both CBT and DBT therapists focus treatment on the present. A DBT Therapists knows that even if a problem behavior originated in the past it may in fact continue and be maintained for entirely different reasons today.
DBT clients frequently have a history of trauma or PTSD that contributes to high levels of emotional sensitivity. To treat this, a DBT Therapist will do Prolonged Exposure Therapy to help resolve the trauma. However, this activity usually occurs a little later in the treatment to help clients attain basic emotion regulation skills and self-soothing skills first.