Some teens are predisposed to be more emotional. As parents, we can feel stuck in the middle of a constant storm, never knowing what or who might trigger an intense emotional reaction from your teen. There is help! DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) can help those who struggle with emotional dysregulation, and their families.
If you get the sense that your teen is more emotional than their peers, there might be a reason why. Some of us are predisposed to experiencing emotions faster and more intensely than others. While researchers are still uncovering why that is, many believe that a combination of genetic factors, neurochemistry, and psychosocial stressors play a role in impacting one’s ability to effectively manage emotions.
One might read that statement and think, “well, if my teen is predisposed to it, then there is nothing we can do”. I am here to tell you that is not true! DBT is an evidence-based therapy that specifically targets those that struggle with emotion regulation difficulties. It does so by introducing and practicing a variety of strategies and skills. These skills fall within the themes of mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness.
While most want to jump right into emotion regulation, DBT starts with mindfulness. The idea behind this is that you can’t effectively solve a problem if you don’t know what the problem is! Mindfulness helps your teen become aware of what is going on in the present moment. This allows them to learn and decide what to do about it, rather than becoming overwhelmed by it.
Emotion regulation focuses on increasing your teen’s knowledge of their emotions, how they experience them, and what their emotions get them to do. Within this module, knowledge about one’s emotions is power! Once your teen has learned more about their emotions, they can then sense the emotions as they begin to rise and employ coping skills in that moment. This makes the emotions easier to manage.
Distress tolerance is a skill and a general philosophy that helps your teen get through crisis situations without making it worse. For those instances when emotion regulation does not work or your teen is struck with a powerful urge, distress tolerance can help them get through it without causing harm to themselves or others. Interpersonal effectiveness focusing on learning more adaptive ways for your teen to ask for what they want while keeping their emotions in check.
If you feel like your teen is struggling with emotional dysregulation and would benefit from learning these skills give us a call today. We are currently offering individual DBT therapy for all ages. We also offer a Teen DBT Group for high school students. The group focuses on the development and practice of these DBT skills.