Mastering Your Emotions with DBT Therapy

Emotions are a fundamental part of our human experience, but sometimes they can overwhelm us, leaving us feeling out of control. If you want to manage your emotions more effectively, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a powerful tool that can help.

Learning to manage your emotions more effectively can help anyone. However, it’s especially important if you have a behavioral health concern. If you have a mood, anxiety, eating, or substance use disorder, DBT could be a good treatment choice.

Understanding Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

What Is DBT?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a mental health treatment approach that focuses on teaching you to cope with stress in healthy ways. It helps you manage difficult emotions, improve your relationships, and live in the present moment.

These goals are broken down into 4 key areas: distress tolerance, emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and mindfulness.

The overall goal of dialectical behavior therapy is to find a balance between reality and your emotions. With DBT tools for managing your emotions, you can approach your challenges with a healthy way of thinking.


If you’ve spent some time learning about behavioral health treatment options, you may have heard the term Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). DBT therapy is a type of CBT, so it uses many of the same techniques you’ll find in other therapy approaches, focusing on your negative thoughts and their causes. The goal is to shift your thoughts in a positive direction.

Like other types of CBT, DBT is rooted in changing patterns of behavior and thoughts, but it places a more significant emphasis on acceptance and validation. DBT acknowledges that contradictory forces can coexist within us and aims to find a balance between change and acceptance.

You can access both DBT and other CBT therapy through a trained therapist, who will help you apply the tools and skills you need to your life. You can get therapy through individual, group, or phone coaching sessions.

How DBT Therapy Can Help You Manage Your Emotions

DBT is helpful for many people who struggle with mood disorders like major depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and eating disorders, as well as substance abuse disorders. It can also help people who have experienced trauma, as it provides methods for handling the intense feelings associated with those experiences.

DBT equips you with skills to manage intense emotions, navigate relationships, and develop mindfulness. Its multi-layered approach helps you foster emotional resilience and stability. It can help when you’re struggling with just about any kind of emotional regulation, impulse control, or relationships.

The 4 Pillars of DBT Therapy

dbt therapy

DBT therapy can be broken down into four main pillars or focus areas: distress tolerance, emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and mindfulness.

Distress tolerance

Distress tolerance is a DBT pillar that focuses on tolerating negative emotions rather than running away from them. It teaches skills to help you respond to situations more effectively without having overwhelming feelings of stress. Some of these skills include healthy distraction techniques, self-soothing, and improving the moment, which are more complex than they might sound.

Emotion regulation

DBT helps you identify and understand your emotions. From there, it teaches you to implement strategies for managing unwanted emotions that cause distress in your life.

Interpersonal effectiveness

Through DBT, you will learn good techniques for maintaining self-respect and communicating assertively with other people. For most DBT clients, common themes include how to express needs more effectively, how to communicate constructively throughout conversations with difficult people, and how and when to say “no.” The skills taught through DBT often result in stronger, healthier relationships.


Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment. It helps you reduce reactivity and increase awareness, which enables you to make better decisions.

How to Implement DBT Therapy Techniques into Daily Life

Incorporating DBT techniques into your everyday routines takes a lot of consistent practice. However, it’s worth it.

Strategies like using mindfulness exercises, employing distress tolerance tools during challenging moments, and practicing emotion regulation techniques regularly can make a significant difference in your daily life. If you are pursuing DBT therapy, practicing techniques as recommended by your therapist will help you improve your life and get the most out of your treatment.

Potential Challenges in Applying DBT and How to Overcome Them

Implementing DBT techniques can be difficult, especially in the early stages as you try to find the right balance between acceptance and change. However, consistent practice, your therapist’s guidance, and perseverance can help you overcome these hurdles.

Sunrise offers behavioral health guidance and therapy services in the Puget Sound area. We offer tailored DBT programs to support individuals in their emotional journey. If you’re seeking to master your emotions and create healthier emotional responses, reaching out to Sunrise is a great place to start.

Contact us about our DBT therapy services to see how you or your loved one can better manage emotions and live your best possible life.

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