DBT Group: Week One – Part I – Understanding Emotions

Module: Emotion Regulation
List of Handouts and Worksheets covered in group and assigned as homework will be listed at the end of this post.

*I’m splitting up Week One into parts because there was a crapload of information and reading to for this first group, and in fact it carried over into the next group the following week.

Emotion Regulation Handout 1
Goals of Emotion Regulation:
– Understanding and Naming Emotions
– Decrease Unwanted Emotion
– Decrease Emotional Vulnerability
– Decrease Emotional Suffering

The first Handout we covered was Emotion Regulation Handout 1, which is a pretty good place to start, at #1. The Handout covers what the goals of Emotion Regulation are, and what this module sets out to do is to help you, or rather me (and my fellow group members), to get a handle on our emotions. First by helping to identify and name our emotions, then onto ways to decrease unwanted emotions, emotional vulnerability, and emotional suffering. I am anxious to start with this one because already I am not only doubtful but I am skeptical too. Decrease my emotional suffering? Decrease my unwanted emotions? Really? Alright then, impress me.

Starting with:
Emotion Regulation Handout 2 – Overview: Understanding and Naming Emotions
First Box (Overview): What Emotions Do For You.
Moving to:
Emotion Regulation Handout 3 – What Emotions Do For You

What Our Emotions Do For Us?
This frankly is an excellent question. What do our emotions do for us? Besides ruining my life, and keeping me in a constant state of anxiety, terror, and exhaustion. I am very curious to know what purpose they serve.

Well, it turns out, they help us in a number of ways. They help us to assess a situation and drive us to action when necessary. They help us to communicate to others what is happening, how we are doing, or how they can help us. They also help others communicate to us, knowing how others feel to be able to help them, or understand them. And they communicate to ourselves. What we feel about a given situation can help us to be motivated to change a situation, or they may help us to get out of a situation, or they may help us to accept a situation. Without emotions we may very well become an isolated, vulnerable, detached species, that don’t run from threatening predators, or a species that never says “I love you”, or a species that never laughs at a joke, or cries when a loved one is lost. It often seems like our emotions, wait, let me rephrase that, it often seems like my emotions are out to get me, and may very well be trying to kill me, or at the very least drive me insane. But I highly doubt they are there to help me? They have yet to do so thus far, but if I de-BPD for a second, and consider what’s being said, is it possible that my emotions aren’t out to kill me? Is it possible that my emotions don’t have some sick secret agenda to screw with me for their entertainment? Have my emotions been trying to help me all along?

Bullcrap. No way.

Okay, wait…give this a chance…alright…continue then…

Starting with:
Emotion Regulation Handout 2 – Overview: Understanding and Naming Emotions
Second Box (Overview): Factors That Make Regulating Emotions Hard
Moving to:
Emotion Regulation Handout 4 – What Makes It Hard to Regulate Your Emotions

What Makes It Hard to Regulate Emotions?
I wanted to answer this question like a smart ass but I’m going to hold my tongue and let the DBT do what it does best.

So what makes it hard to regulate emotions?

In no particular order, the following can make dealing with emotions feel like an unending battle:
– You don’t know how to manage them; you don’t have the skills to manage them
– The emotion may be too high to be able to focus enough to manage it
– There may be multiple emotions bombarding you, and overlapping each other, and it can be difficult to even know what the emotions are let alone to know where to start
– If you struggle with a disorder or cognitive disability, this can impede being able to manage emotions
– Your environment may affect if you can, or how you do, or don’t, as the case may be, handle your emotions
– You may be scared to identify or acknowledge your emotions, that they may overwhelm you
– You believe your emotions to be facts

This last one, believing your emotions are facts, can actually be quite overwhelming and so pervasive that it not only hinders being able to manage your emotions, but it also leads to suppressing, avoiding, and numbing ourselves to our emotions. This can keep us blind and ignorant to the truth and reality of what’s really going on. These are called Emotion Myths.

Emotion Regulation Handout 4A – Myths About Emotions
Emotion Myths can be hard-wired into us. They could be what we learned from our parents, or caregivers, our friends, society in general, or they could even be a product of our own interpretations and assumptions.

Here are some common Emotion Myths:
1. There is a right way to feel in a situation.
2. Letting others know how I feel is a sign of weakness.
3. Being emotional is bad.
4. I need approval to feel a certain way.
5. If I feel it, it must be a fact.
6. I am not capable to decide how I should feel.
7. My emotions are who I am.

These are on the Handout, and ones that I personally checked off.

I’m going to end here for the first part because it was a lot, and the next part or parts (I’m not sure if I’ll split it into two or three parts yet), have a lot of information to them as well.

Handouts Covered:
Emotion Regulation Handout 1 – Goals of Emotion Regulation
Emotion Regulation Handout 2 – Overview: Understanding and Naming Emotions
Emotion Regulation Handout 3 – What Emotions Do For You
Emotion Regulation Handout 4 – What Makes It Hard to Regulate Your Emotions
Emotion Regulation Handout 4A – Myths About Emotions

Homework Assigned (Reading):
Emotion Regulation Handout 6 (10 pgs)

Honorable Mention:
Worksheet:
Emotion Regulation Worksheet 2 – Figuring Out What My Emotions Are Doing For Me
Emotion Regulation Worksheet 2A – Example: Figuring Out What My Emotions Are Doing For Me
*I note Worksheet 2 & Worksheet 2A as Honorable Mentions because they weren’t covered in group or assigned as homework but I think they can be helpful to further understand how our emotions help us, and what purpose they serve.

Emotion Regulation Worksheet 3 – Myths About Emotions (2 pgs)
*I note this as an Honorable Mention because it wasn’t covered in group or assigned as homework but I think it’s helpful to use in relation to ER Handout 4A – Myths About Emotions

Bye for now!

Skills, Handouts, and Worksheets from DBT Skills Training Manual, Second Edition, by Marsha M. Linehan. Copyright 2015 by Marsha M. Linehan.

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