Emotion regulation

Managing emotions

If you’ve ever wondered why you experience certain emotions, what functions they serve, and how to “get more or less” of a certain emotion, this is the module for you.


Our DBT Therapists will teach you emotion regulation skills that will help you:


  • Better identify the emotion you’re experiencing

  • Understand why you behave the way you do when you experience certain emotions

  • Modulate certain emotions if they are causing problems for you

One popular  Emotion Regulation skill our DBT therapists love to teach is known as "Opposite To Emotion Action".


There are good reasons for feeling whatever it is you feel. Even when they are painful, your emotions are legitimate and valid. The larger problem is emotion-driven behavior, because acting on emotions often creates destructive outcomes. Letting anger drive you to attack with words can disrupt your relationships just like letting fear drive you to avoid critical tasks can paralyze you at work.

A second problem with acting on emotion-driven impulses is that they intensify your original feeling. Instead of feeling relief, you may get even more consumed with the emotion at hand. This is where opposite action comes in. Rather than fueling your emotion, opposite action helps to regulate and change it. Here are some examples of opposite action.

Opposite action isn’t about denying or pretending an emotion isn’t happening. Rather, it is about regulation. You acknowledge the emotion but use the opposite behavior to reduce it or encourage a new emotion.

There are six steps to creating opposite action:

1. Start by acknowledging what you feel. Describe the emotion in words.

2. Ask yourself if there’s a good reason to regulate or reduce the intensity of this emotion. Is it overpowering you? Does it drive you to do dangerous or destructive things?

3. Notice the specific body language and behavior that accompanies the emotion. What’s your facial expression, your posture? What are you saying and how are you saying it? What, specifically, do you do in response to the emotion?

4. Identify opposite action. How can you relax your face and body so it doesn’t scream “I’m angry” or “I’m scared”? How can you change your posture to convey confidence and vitality rather than depression? How can you move toward, not away from, what scares you? When you are angry, how can you acknowledge or ignore rather than attack? Make a plan for opposite action that includes a specific description of your new behavior.

5. Fully commit to opposite action and set a time frame to work at it. How long will you maintain the opposite behavior? As you think about making a commitment, keep in mind why you want to regulate your emotions. What’s happened in the past when you gave in to emotion-driven behavior? Were there serious costs to you, to others?

6. Monitor your emotions. As you do opposite action, notice how the original emotion may change or evolve. Opposite action literally sends a message to the brain that the old emotion is no longer appropriate—and it helps you shift to a less painful emotion.

if you're looking for a dbT therapist in chicago, Cityscape counseling would love to work with you.

We know that seeking out therapy can be a daunting endeavor so we're dedicated to helping you each step of the way.


Start by calling or emailing us to set up your first appointment