Page 12 - Healthcare News SepOct 2021
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  • Distress tolerance, which is most effective in im- proving a moment with soothing or distraction skills. “The point of this skill is to help survive the crisis without making things worse,” Millman said;
• Emotion regulation, a technique that allows cli- ents to strengthen their emotional resiliency to more effectively navigate powerful feelings; and
“I talk with people about what they can and cannot control. Though
we can’t control events outside, we can control ourselves and our responses to those events.”
• Interpersonal effectiveness, which Millman described as developing assertiveness skills so clients can ask for what they want, better address their needs, and set limits when necessary.
“The point of DBT is to help people feel like their life is worth living and has improved,” he explained. “It’s not a good outcome to have someone stay alive
while still suffering the tor- ment they have been feeling.”
Relieving the torment starts with allowing the client to accept they have suicidal thoughts. In this context, ac- ceptance means acknowledge- ment, not approval.
“When someone has suicidal thoughts, it’s a sign to them that something is wrong in their lives that needs to change,” he said. “Acknowl- edging those thoughts can actually be protective for the person.”
Another area of DBT
involves stepping into painful
emotions. Millman explained
how human instincts try to
protect us and avoid things
that make us feel anxious, so
we tend to put them off. Avoid-
ing a difficult conversation is
a good example of something
that needs to be done, but creates anxiety before we do it.
One way clients deal with emotional pain is to engage in self-harming behaviors such as cutting themselves.
“We ask the client to just sit with the urge to cut
 Dan Millman runs a program that helps people take control of self-destructive tendencies.
 themselves without acting on it,” he said. “In that way, we are asking them to step into the pain. It’s easier said than done, and it’s really challenging.”
The point is to show the client they confronted the moment and got through it. A distraction like
Please see Suicide, page 34
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