Where do you go when you feel upset/stressed? What do you do? Do you ever feel like you are so stressed out that you don’t even know how to feel anymore? I think we all feel like that from time to time! For some of my clients, they have never really learned how to express their emotions. Many of us grew up in families that either had difficulty showing emotions, or the opposite was true, and they showed a lot of emotions. Sometimes the majority of emotions that were expressed involved anger! Either way, it can prevent us from learning how to express emotions in a way that is helpful! We have all had experiences where we have yelled at our spouse, or best friend, or even our kids! Wouldn’t it be nice to learn ways to express ourselves without making people angry, or saying something that we immediately regret saying? I’m ashamed to admit that I have been guilty of that! There is a better way to communicate with others, to get our needs met, and a better way to handle our emotions than taking that stress out on the people closest to us!
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, more commonly known as DBT, is a program that helps people to balance their lives better. DBT is broken down into three main areas of focus: managing emotions, learning how to manage stress better, and improving relationships with others. In order to see if DBT may be helpful for you, I will ask you some questions and describe a little of what DBT could do for you!
Do you struggle to manage your emotions? Has anyone ever told you that you have a short temper or suggest you “calm down”? Do you ever feel like you have peak high emotions and then deep lows? Some of the people that I have worked with talk about how their moods change really quickly and they experience emotions so deeply that they feel like they are on a rollercoaster! DBT can help you learn to manage your emotions differently, using mindfulness techniques and developing ways to process emotions in a more helpful manner. DBT may also help you to identify your emotions better so you can slow things down enough to think carefully about how to handle situations, instead of just reacting in the heat of the moment. It can be difficult to manage emotions when you are dealing with a lot of things at once, and they can be really tough to express. DBT may help you to sort out your emotions, making it easier to identify what you are really feeling. For example, I find that many clients talk about how angry they are at a spouse/family member, when what they are actually feeling is hurt. DBT can help you to learn how to communicate these thoughts/feelings.
Do you find that you try to avoid thinking about painful situation or an event that happens? Does it seem that problems tend to stack up on you until you cannot handle any more? Some of my clients have gotten really good at just ignoring problems, hoping that the problems will just go away. While sometimes we do need to put a problem to the side for a while, constantly ignoring the problem tends to make it get bigger! In this area of DBT, you will learn different ways of tolerating stressful situations. Sometimes stress can build up on us, and it affects us in all areas of our lives. Some that I have worked with have struggled with health problems, not being able to sleep, worrying all the time, or being cranky with the kids. You may also learn more helpful ways of dealing with stress so you can focus on the more positive things in your life! You will learn ways to keep stress from consuming your thoughts all of the time. Let’s face it, we cannot take all of the stress away from our lives, but we can learn to manage it!
Relationships with Others
Do you have tension/conflict in your relationships with others? Have you said things to people that you regret? Or maybe you find yourself arguing with friends and family a lot, or feeling frustrated that it never seems to go your way? Do you ever feel that other people don’t understand you? Is it difficult to express how hurt you feel by someone’s actions? In DBT, you will learn ways to handle some of these conflicts! You will learn how to communicate what your needs are, and ways to evaluate if what you are asking someone to do is okay. I know that sometimes I struggle with asking others for what I might be needing from them, and DBT can help to figure out how best to approach others when we are asking. The skills that are taught in DBT will help you develop better communication. It will help you to learn how to recognize when we need to focus on the other person in the relationship, and when it is okay to focus on what your own needs are. You will learn helpful skills that you can use at home, at work, even with your friends and family. You may find that your relationships improve after taking part in DBT!