All of us feel and experience emotions; negative and positive. They are a normal part of our everyday lives. For some of us, these emotions can seem so overwhelming, that we almost feel like we are on an out of control roller coaster. This type of intense emotional overload can lead to a deep need to do something in order to stop the intensity. We feel the need to regulate our emotions and make ourselves feel okay again.
Emotion regulation is a term generally used to describe a person’s ability to effectively manage and respond to an emotional experience. Unconsciously, we use different types of strategies to cope with difficult situations. Most of us can pull from a bag of tricks that we can use to adapt to our needs. Some are healthy, some may not be so healthy, like the individual who just broke up with her partner putting all of her energy into exercise, or the individual who just got fired and is turning to a bottle of alcohol for solace. We all have the ability to find the ways to cope with difficult emotions, but sometimes we are just not sure what will work and what won't.
When you experience really strong, negative emotions it can be easy to get caught up in old patterns of using damaging coping skills such as substance use or self-injury. While self-injury might work in the short run, it is only a band aid for someone trying to learn how to better regulate these intense waves or negative feelings.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) uses emotion regulation skills to help us determine healthy ways to change our emotions or our reactions to various situations in life. DBT teaches coping skills that can help you to learn alternative ways to react to these situations, and create new patterns of dealing with them. If you often feel like your emotions run every aspect of your life, leaving you feeling totally out of control, seeing a trained DBT therapist may be a good idea.
Research has shown DBT to be effective in reducing suicidal behavior, non-suicidal self-injury, psychiatric hospitalization, treatment dropout, substance use, anger, and depression and improving social and global functioning. It is one of the most researched and evidence-based practiced in counseling and psychotherapy.
Tracey Katz, LCSW is a trained DBT therapist, who works with adolescents and adults in her practice in Southampton, PA and can be contacted by phone (267)573-9348 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org