What is Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

RO-DBT is a new evidence-based treatment, informed by over 20 years of clinical and experimental research, for patients with emotional over-control.  ‘Self-control’ is usually seen as a good thing, however too much self-control can cause difficulties.  Excessive self-control is associated with social isolation, feeling disconnected and poor relationships and it contributes to conditions like
chronic depression and anxiety, anorexia nervosa, obsessive compulsive personality, avoidant personality and autism spectrum disorders.  You can read more about the treatment and research at www.radicallyopen.net

Over-control is seen as a problem of emotional loneliness – not necessarily lacking contact with others – but lack of social connectedness with others.

We are social beings and 3 core components of emotional well-being are:

  • Openness to feedback, even when this is challenging
  • Flexibility in our responses, to ever changing demands
  • Communication of our emotions, recognizing that expressing emotion is crucial when forming
    close interpersonal bonds

RO-DBT treatment strategies aim to build:

  • Flexible responding to the demands of the moment
  • Emphasis on the importance of authentic emotional expression to build positive interpersonal relationships
  • Self enquiry into our usual responses
  • Ability to manage unexpected or challenging feedback

Read more about if RO-DBT is for you.

The treatment targets habitual ways of coping that interfere with daily life:

  1. Inhibited and Disingenuous Emotional Expression
    • Over-controlled people tend to display inhibited, flattened or insincere facial expressions (eg. smiling when distressed, showing concern when not feeling it). They may struggle with empathy and work hard to avoid public displays of emotion.
  2. Hyper-Detail Focused and Overly Cautious
    • Over-controlled people are not necessarily avoidant but guarded, wary and suspicious. They exhibit superior detailed-focused processing, are perfectionistic and quick to correct the mistakes of others.
  3. Rigid and rule-governed behaviors
    • The actions of over-controlled people tend to be non-mood dependent and instead follow certain self-imposed rules. They are motivated by social obligation and exhibit high moral certitude; they often make self-sacrifices to care for others or to do the ‘right thing.’ They tend to have compulsive needs for order and structure.
  4. Aloof and Distant Style of Relating
    • Over-controlled people do not necessarily lack contact, but rather lack social connectedness with others. They are slow to warm-up and will walk away or abandon a relationship when in conflict. They are likely to feel like an outsider, different or detached from others.
  5. High Social Comparisons and Envy-Bitterness
    • Over-controlled people tend to be performance-focused, engage in social comparisons, are secretly competitive, tend to hold grudges and may have secret pride in superior capacities for self-control. They may take pleasure in a rival failing or feel unappreciated for personal self-sacrifices or efforts on their part to meet or exceed expectations.

Interventions include the use of bottom-up strategies to activate the neurological social safety system, participation in novel behavioral experiences, targeting and tracking problematic behaviors and maladaptive social signals, use of self-enquiry to challenge old habits and beliefs, and practicing new ways of engaging with others and the world.

If you are a professional seeking training in this ground-breaking approach, I can offer up to 1-Day trainings at your location.

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