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emotion dysregulation

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a treatment that was originally created by Marsha Linehan and her team to treat individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Folks with BPD have what’s called pervasive emotion dysregulation—in other words, they struggle to identify what they’re feeling, don’t have the skills to effectively manage the emotions that arise, and end up turning to problem behaviors (such as suicide attempts, self-harming behaviors, or substance use), in an attempt to cope.

Editor’s note: The following interview is with April West, PsyD, co-author with Matthew McKay, PhD of Emotion Efficacy Therapy: A Brief, Exposure-Based Treatment for Emotion Regulation Integrating ACT and DBT. West is a psychotherapist and emotion researcher based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

 

Are some of your clients overwhelmed by their emotions? Does the knob seemed turned all the way up when they’re angry, ashamed, fearful, or sad? Do they struggle to avoid painful affect, and then, as they lose control, become overwhelmed by a tsunami of feelings? Do they believe that certain emotions are unbearable (distress intolerance), and that they lack the ability to face them? As you know, these are all features of emotion dysregulation, and a corresponding lack of emotion efficacy.

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