Unlocking the Secrets of Emotion Regulation: Insights from TheraHive's Expert Panel

Jan 17
7 min read

Welcome back to another recap of our TheraHive Instagram Live! In this session, we went deep into Emotion Regulation within Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), joined by our familiar panel of DBT experts: Dr. Kiki Fehling, Dr. Jesse Finkelstein, and Dr. Alicia Smart.

Recap: The Essence of Emotion Regulation in DBT

Dr. Kiki Fehling outlined Emotion Regulation as having four key components, emphasizing the importance of "feeling your feelings" and "reducing unwanted emotions" for effective emotional management. Dr. Fehling stated, "Emotion regulation is the largest module of the DBT skills... focusing on identifying emotions, reducing unwanted emotions, reducing emotional vulnerability, and reducing emotional suffering."

Integration with Other DBT Modules

Our conversation highlighted the interconnectedness of DBT modules. Dr. Jesse Finkelstein noted, "Mindfulness is always there, and in order to know what you're feeling, you have to be aware and mindful." This underscores the holistic approach DBT takes towards emotional and mental health.

Applying Skills in Real-life Scenarios

A significant part of the discussion was dedicated to the application of Emotion Regulation skills, particularly in crisis situations. Dr. Alicia Smart touched on this, stating, "if we're in crisis and emotionally distressed, it's actually too overwhelming to use more complicated skills. Then using those crisis distress tolerance skills are going to be really helpful first."

Overcoming Challenges and Setbacks

The experts addressed common obstacles in practicing Emotion Regulation skills. Dr. Fehling mentioned the difficulty some may have with interoception — the awareness of internal body sensations, which is crucial for identifying emotions. This segment was particularly enlightening for understanding the nuances of practicing DBT skills.

The Difference Between Effective Use and Overuse

A critical aspect of the conversation revolved around the potential pitfalls of applying Emotion Regulation strategies. Dr. Kiki Fehling discussed the nuanced difference between effective use and overuse of these skills. "You might be using a skill at a time when it is not effective because the emotion is justified," she noted, stressing the importance of discernment in choosing the appropriate DBT skill for a given emotional situation. This underscores the concept that while DBT offers a toolbox of strategies, the key lies in selecting the right tool for the job.

The Underpinnings of Our Emotions

In the latter part of the discussion, the TheraHive experts delved into the practical aspects and complexities of applying Emotion Regulation skills. Dr. Jesse Finkelstein illuminated the idea that understanding the underpinnings of our emotional responses can enhance the effectiveness of DBT techniques. "Understanding the causes of things works much better than blaming," he explained, highlighting the importance of comprehension over judgment in navigating emotional landscapes.

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