Dialectical Behavior Therapy Techniques
Emotion Regulation
Presented by: Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes  Executive Director, AllCEUs
Podcast Host: Counselor Toolbox & Happiness isn’t Brain Surgery
Author: Journey to Recovery (2015) & Happiness Isn’t Brain Surgery (2017)
Objectives
~    Define emotion regulation
~    Identify why emotion regulation is important and how it can help
What is Emotion Regulation
~    Emotional vulnerability refers to [situations] in which you are more emotionally sensitive or reactive than others
~    What makes people more reactive
~    Current vulnerabilities (including stress)
~    Differences in the central nervous system and HPA Axis
~    Different learning experiences
~    Degree to which something conflicts with  your beliefs about how the world “should” be
The HPA-Axis
~    Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal (HPA) axis is our central Threat Response System
~    When it is activated it causes cortisol to be released
~    Cortisol causes
~    Blood glucose to increase
~    Wake-up/Excitatory chemicals and hormones to be released
~    Stimulation  exhaustion
~    Sex hormones to be SUPPRESSED
~    Anxiety
~    Poor sleep
~    Depression

Basic Threats
~    Loss of control/The unknown
~    Rejection/Failure
~    Death
The Brain and Stress
~    When there is a chronic threat to safety and a constant underlay of anxiety
~    You brain makes connections from your experiences and prunes away connections that are not utilized.
~    If 5 out of 6 of your last friendships ended poorly, and one is still going, what is your expectation of that relationship?
~    People who feel a lack of control over their environment are particularly vulnerable chronic stress
~    Abused and neglected children or adults
~    Adults with anxiety or depressive disorders
The Brain and Stress
~    The hypervigilant state activated by stress:
~    Disrupts the ability to focus and learn
~    Impairs the ability to form new memories and recall information (Do you really learn much when you are highly stressed or feeling threatened?)
~    Is associated with emotional and behavioral dysregulation.
~    You remember the unpleasant things
~    Have difficulty recalling the pleasant ones
~    Have difficulty exploring alternate possibilities
= STRESS

Chronic Stress and Hypocortisolism
~    When people are under chronic stress, the brain
~    May stop getting as stressed about each individual thing to prevent overload
~    Conserves excitatory brain chemicals for the fight or flight response
~    When it perceives a threat/stressor worth responding to, it responds extremely strongly. (dysregulation)
Chronic Stress and Hypocortisolism
~    By reducing chronic stress, over time your brain will
~    Recover and rebalance and quit staying in survival mode.
~    Become more able to access positive memories
~    You will be more able to tolerate distress and explore stressors from the wise-mind.
~    Form new, positive memories
Section Summary
~    Emotional dysregulation results from high emotional vulnerability due to
~    long-term stress
~    Invalidating environments
~    If you grew up in an invalidating environment, you may have never developed the tools to deal effectively with your emotions
~    This created a source of constant stress for you which only intensified your emotional reactions.

Section Summary
~    Under stress your brain does not learn or retrieve memories as effectively
~    When you are feeling unpleasant emotions, you notice and remember things that support those feelings.
~    Emotional dysregulation activates the Threat Response System which:
~    Disrupts the ability to focus and learn
~    Impairs the ability to form new memories and recall new, contradictory, positive information

Section Summary
~    Emotion Regulation involves eliminating or mitigating vulnerabilities in order to allow the brain to rebalance and get out of survival mode.