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Emotion Regulation

One of the most important functions of emotions is to communicate.  People tend to feel that painful feelings are most often the "problem to be solved". Those of you who are angry, intensely frustrated, depressed, or anxious would benefit from help in learning to regulate your emotions. I have noticed that individuals who try to regulate their emotions by telling themselves not to feel whatever it is they feel have short lived results.  This overlysimplistic approach is a direct result of an emotionally invalidating environment, where people should smile when they are unhappy, or "put on a happy face", be nice and "not rock the boat" when they are angry, or to just confess and feel forgiven when you are feeling guilty, or if you would just "change your attitude", then that would make it all better.  Intense emotions have powerful effects on memory, thoughts, the ability to think, physical functio and behavior.  In a sense, emotions love themselves so much that they will keep echoing long after the case in point.


Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skills for emotion regulation include:

Identify and label emotions

Identify obstacles to changing emotions

Reduce vulnerability to "Emotion Mind"

Increase positive emotional events

Increase mindfulness to current emotions

Take opposite action

Apply distress tolerance techniques


Describing Emotion
This skill is used to understand what emotions you are experience

Prompting event

Interpretation of the event

Body sensations

Body language

Action urge

Emotion name, based on previous items on list


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Reducing Vulnerability to Negative Emotions
This skill reduces vulnerability to negative emotions.  This skill increases a healthy body and positive emotions, so you are more likely to have healthy emotions. 

PLEASE
PhysicaL illness (treat) - If you are sick or injured, get proper treatment for it.

Eating (balanced) - Make sure you eat a proper healthy diet, and eat in moderation.

Avoid mood-altering drugs - Do not take non-prescribed medication or illegal drugs. They are very harmful to your body, and can make your mood unpredictable.

Sleep (balanced) - Do not sleep too much or too little. Eight hours of sleep is recommended per night for the average adult.

Exercise - Make sure you get an effective amount of exercise, as this will both improve body image and release endorphins, making you happier.


MASTERy (build)
Try to do one thing a day to help build competence and control.

Opposite action
This skill is used when you have an unjustified emotion, one that doesn’t belong in the situation at hand. You use it by doing the opposite of your urges in the moment. It is a tool to bring you out of an unwanted or unjustified emotion by replacing it with the emotion that is opposite.

Problem solving
This is used to solve a problem when your emotion is justified. It is used in combination with other skills.



Decrease Emotional Suffering
This skill teaches you to let go of painful emotions through Mindfulness and to change painful emotions using Opposite Action.

Letting go of Emotional Suffering
Observe and experience your emotion, accept it, then let it go.




Skills are taught in the areas of MindfulnessInterpersonal EffectivenessEmotion Regulation, and Distress Tolerance.
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Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Module: Emotion Regulation?