If you’ve ever felt your emotions are so completely overwhelming that you can’t restabilize yourself and may return to unhealthy or high risk behaviors, DBT can help.
Helping individuals to cope in crisis situations is one of the primary goals of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). The skills and tools taught throughout DBT can be used in a variety of circumstances and throughout many daily experiences to minimize stress and reduce emotional suffering. If you’re dealing with a high-stress environment, relationship, PTSD, depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions, DBT skills may help diminish the severity of your symptoms and promote a better quality of life.
The Distress Tolerance module of DBT incorporates both the ability to non-judgmentally accept yourself and your situation, and the ability to tolerate and survive that crisis point. Remembering that stress and pain are a part of life is one of the first steps to acceptance. It’s also important to recognize that most of our stress is heightened by fighting this reality - when we focus on tolerating the moment, rather than avoiding or negating it, we usually move through the emotional distress much faster.
Distracting yourself from crisis when the situation is out of your control can help you diminish the impact of negative thoughts and feelings. The acronym ACCEPTS in DBT stands for:
Refusing to accept reality does not make it any less painful. In fact, studies have shown that this type of denial can prolong our suffering. Acknowledging and enduring painful situations through acceptance, however, decreases the pain of the situation and can shorten the time we feel emotionally vulnerable or distraught.
Basic DBT Acceptance skills include breathing exercises and awareness exercises where you can acknowledge and accept your emotions and your circumstances, breathe through them, and remind yourself to accept and tolerate your reality with purposeful willingness.
“TIPP” the scale with these strategies to help control intense emotions or impulsive urges in crisis:
Use your 6 senses to ground yourself in the present moment. For instance:
These and many other skills are taught in DBT to increase Distress Tolerance and can help you navigate crisis in a healthier way without resorting to impulsive or risky behavior or sending you into panic attacks, freeze mode and other common reactions to emotional distress. You have the power to improve your situation through purposeful application of DBT skills.