Emotion regulation (ER) is the ability to respond to and manage emotional experiences. Impaired ability to cope with emotions- especially strong, negative emotions- is a feature of many different mental health diagnoses.
ER is a central skill clients learn in DBT. ER is a primary deficit for persons with borderline personality disorder, and learning different skills to improve ER is a major aspect of treatment.
Of course, many clinicians focus on ER deficits in their clients across diagnoses. One recent study examined ER as a "transdiagnostic construct central to the maintenance of psychopathology." Analyzing 67 studies, the authors found the following differences after treatment:
- decrease in symptoms of their diagnosis
- emotion dysregulation decreased
- use of maladaptive ER strategies decreased
These differences were seen across diagnoses and treatment type, supporting the idea that emotion regulation as a transdiagnostic construction, related not just to specific disorders, but psychopathology in general.