Tuesday, January 10, 2017

DBT Dialectical Behavior Therapy Part 2

DBT Dialectical Behavior Therapy Part 2: Distress Tolerance for Parents

Distress tolerance is another skill used in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). In a nut shell, distress tolerance is how we handle crises or other emotionally challenging situations. 

Something important to ask yourself is this: "When I am in a situation I cannot change, how do I get out without making things worse?”
This phrase is really important for parenting and learning to pick and choose "battles."

Some simple strategies for distress tolerance are listed below:

-Splashing some cold water on your face when in crisis mode

-20 minutes of intense exercise (to help deescalate)

-Paced breathing to counter fight or flight reactions (i.e. inhale for 5 seconds, exhale for 8 seconds)

-Muscle relaxation (progressively go through your body and focus on relaxing each muscle: head, neck, shoulders, arms, legs, feet, etc.)

-Soothe your senses by using scented hand lotion (touch, smell), looking at relaxing photos (sight), listening to soothing music (sound), etc.

-Avoid “re-firing” the emotions by using some form of distraction (e.g., talking to a friend, reading even a brief article, tidying up around the house, etc.)

It is extremely important for parents to keep their emotions in check. 
Children need their parents to be able to tolerate their (the children's) emotions, stay calm, and help them manage their big feelings. Parents can only truly do this when they can successfully work through their feelings and, BONUS: they are modeling good coping skills in the process.

Posted by Shawna Paplaski, LCPC