Emotion Regulation Interventions


kassi-423Here is a list of some clinicial interventions designed to help people with emotion regulation problems, presented in alphabetical order. Many clinicians, however, are coming to the conclusion that all forms of psychotherapy likely have some aspect of emotion regulation work as part of their methods.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is a 1:1 psychotherapy that uses a variety of tools to help a person distance herself from her unwanted emotional states and the fused thinking that is often behind them. The therapy is laid out in a book by its creator, Steven Haves,  a professor at the University of Nevada-Reno. There is a terrific book to help lay folks use the strategies of ACT, called the Happiness Trap, by Russ Harris. He has also written the best book for therapists wanting to learn ACT, called ACT Made Simple. He maintains a website for all things ACT.

Affect Regulation Therapy (ART)

I have not been able to find a good description of this intervention. The materials on the website say that emotion regulation is improved through conditioning and brain maturation and uses traditional psychotherapy tools. Training in the intervention is available in South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia.

Affect Regulation Training (ART)

Not to be confused with the ART intervention described above, this intevention was developed by Mattias Berking and Jeannine Schwartz. Dr. Berking is a professor of psychology in Germany and has written about the connections between emotion regulation and mental disorder. A chapter on this version of ART is included in the Handbook of Emotion Regulation. This is a structured intervention that teaches adults to engage in a sequence of activities when they become emotionally aroused. The sequences includes muscle relaxation, deep breathing, exercises in nonjudgmental awareness, compassionate support and the completion of worksheets that help the adult analyze and modify their emotional responses.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavior Therapy is the grandmama of emotion regulation interventions. Created by Marsha Linehan over the past 30 years, DBT has shown its positive force in several clinical trials. DBT has sveral components: a skills group that teaches mindfulness, distress tolerance and assertiveness skills; a behaviorally oriented individual therapy that helps clients “chain” difficult moments in their lives to discover places where they could have better used their skills or done something differently; coaching calls from clients to DBT professionals who help clients apply DBT skills in the moment; and a group for DBT clinicians to better learn DBT, practice DBT skills themselves and support one another. Training is available through a network of trainers certified by Behavioral Tech. and online. The basic DBT training is oustanding. The original book is a hard read. Clinicians who have read the original and done the basic training should consider buying Kelly Korner’s book on doing DBT.

Emotion-Based Prevention

This is a curriculum for children in Head Start classrooms (early child education for low income children). It teaches small children how to recognize emotions and steps to take when upset. There are four sessions for children. It was developed by Carroll Izard, from the University of Delaware.

Emotion Regulation Therapy

This is a structured intervention, 16 sessions, for adults with anxiety or depression. Adults are taught to better understand emotions, how to monitor for emotional triggers and develop skills in flexible attention. It was developed by Douglas Mennin at Hunter College and David Fresco at Kent State. Their website materials suggest they really know their stuff.

Handling Intense Emotions

This is our intervention for youth in the foster care system and their caregivers.

Tuning Into Kids

Tuning into Kids is an intervention designed to teach parents how to be great emotion coaches: how to recognize emotions in their kids, how to reflect these emotions to their kids, how to empathize with their chiodren and how to change emotional states through breathing and relaxation. It was developed by Sophie Havighurst at the University of Melbourne.

In addition, several interventions based on mindfulness practice can be considered treatments for emotion dysregulation problems. Julian Ford’s intervention, TARGET, has more of a trauma focus, but definitely teaches affect regulation skills.



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