Anger Management with DBT

DBT, which stands for dialectical behavior therapy, is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) developed by Marsha Linehan in the 1980s to treat borderline personality disorder (BPD). Over the past few decades, experts have found that DBT can also be effective in the treatment of various other issues, such as:

  • Substance abuse
  • Mood disorders
  • Depression
  • Disordered eating
  • Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Bipolar disorder

DBT therapy works to equip clients with useful skills in four major areas:

1. Interpersonal effectiveness: Equips individuals with techniques that can help them better communicate with the people around them in ways that strengthen their relationships, make them more assertive, and help them maintain their self respect.

2. Emotion regulation: Teaches individuals strategies that can help manage and potentially even alter intense emotions that are causing issues in their lives. 

3. Mindfulness: Zeros in on helping individuals accept and remain present in the moment at hand.

4. Distress tolerance: Helps increase tolerance of negative emotions (instead of reacting intensely or trying to escape them).

Interestingly, DBT is also widely considered one of the best therapies for anger management. In fact, a 2014 review found that, even when DBT treatments were modified, specialists saw results that might be considered clinically significant in individuals seeking assistance in anger management. Overall, the review found reductions in aggressive and angry behaviors in its subjects as they learned DBT skills and how to apply them. 

If you’re struggling with anger management, here are some of the skills that are taught in DBT practices which can help you handle your anger:

  • Grounding techniques
  • Cost benefit analysis
  • Willingness vs. willfulness
  • The art of radical acceptance

When practicing DBT, grounding techniques are used to help you root (or ground) yourself in the present moment. The skill set is particularly useful during times when you feel overwhelmed by your emotions, because grounding can help prevent you from ruminating on the past or future, as well as curb panic attacks. 

Within the context of DBT, performing a cost benefit analysis involves putting together a list of the potential costs (negatives) and benefits (positives) of a behavior that can be of potential harm to you and/or the people around you. This DBT exercise can help you change by allowing you to clearly see the ways in which your habits or behavioral patterns have negative effects on yourself and others.

Another important skill taught in DBT is comparing willingness vs. willfulness. DBT helps you learn to behave willingly instead of willfully by drawing a distinction between: 

  • Willingness: behaving effectively by responding to situations based on what is required, and
  • Willfulness: “being right” by responding to a given situation in ways that cater to your own needs.

Finally, recognizing emotional crisis as a key step of radical acceptance is another tenet of DBT. Radical acceptance is founded on the idea that we experience suffering due to our attachments to pain, as opposed to suffering from pain on its own. The way to overcome suffering, according to radical acceptance, is by practicing non-attachment. This involves keeping your thoughts in check and not allowing yourself to spiral out of control, even in a difficult situation.

Here at Grouport, we offer a safe, supportive solution that is available to you no matter what mental health condition you’re facing. Learn the power of DBT skills or address other struggles in the context of DBT group therapy led by licensed mental health providers from the comfort of your own home. Learn more about the structure of our DBT Skills groups here.

We also have groups for a variety of other topics including anger management, anxiety, depression, grief and loss, obsessive compulsive disorder, relationship issues, and trauma and PTSD, among many others. You can explore a wide range of group topics and options here. Sign up for one of our groups today and begin your journey towards meaningful, lasting change.

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