From joy and love to hatred and disgust, emotional experiences are part of everyone's life. However, some people are more sensitive to emotion than others. They experience feelings quickly and intensely, and take more time to "recover" from strong emotions. Reasons for this sensitivity may include biological causes, as well as growing up in a family where one's feelings were ignored or dismissed as unreasonable. Emotionally invalidating family experiences deprive us of the opportunity to learn the skills we need to cope with strong, sudden emotion in healthy ways. Instead we may seek temporary solutions to emotional pain through behaviors that are destructive to our bodies, our relationships, and our lives, such as self-injury, disordered eating, or substance use. These solutions come with their own set of problems that eventually add to a sense that one's life is out of control.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan, provides an opportunity to gain the skills necessary for identifying, experiencing and regulating emotions, in order to interact more effectively with ourselves and others. There are two components to DBT: skills training group and individual therapy. In skills training group, lectures and discussions focus on managing emotions, learning to be more effective in relationships, and learning techniques for tolerating distress. Individual therapy focuses on staying motivated, understanding how and why problem behaviors occur and identifying alternative, more skillful ways of coping. The overall approach to therapy is called "dialectical" because it seeks balance between opposites -- such as acceptance and change, validation and challenge, rigidity and flexibility. Underlying DBT is the practice of "mindfulness." Drawn from the Zen tradition of meditation, mindfulness is about attending to the moment, without judgment or impulsivity.
DBT recognizes that everyone works hard at finding solutions to the problems in their lives. It is not designed to take away the solutions that you already have, many of which are probably very effective. Instead, DBT can help you find more and possibly better ways of solving problems than what you are doing right now, especially if what you are doing does not seem to be working for you.
For more DBT related information look at our blog: http://lakeviewcenterdbt.wordpress.com
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For more information on DBT skills groups, see our Groups page.
For information onndividual DBT based therapy, contact Niquie Dworkin at 773-472-8587.