Building and Maintaining Healthy Relationships When You Experience Intense Emotions

Building and Maintaining Healthy Relationships When You Experience Intense Emotions

Two women enjoying pottery classAccording to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), people who struggle with emotion dysregulation or Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) experience symptoms and behaviors that often challenge their ability to make and keep healthy relationships.

Borderline Personality Disorder symptoms can include:

  • Problems regulating emotions
  • Extreme sensitivity
  • Intense mood swings
  • Impulsive and reckless behaviors
  • Fear of abandonment or rejection
  • Poor self esteem
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • A pattern of intense and unstable relationships
  • Difficulty trusting others
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger

To make matters worse, people who struggle with emotion dysregulation tend to have increased rates of substance use, self-harm behaviors, hopeless thinking and suicidal ideation. This often leaves family members or friends walking on egg shells, fearing for their loved one’s safety and simply not wanting to deal with any of this.

So what is the answer when it comes to building healthy relationships and managing intense emotion?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy Interpersonal Effectiveness skills (DBT-IPE)

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) was developed for individuals with borderline personality disorder. It uses concepts of mindfulness and acceptance or being aware of and attentive to the current situation and emotional state.

DBT-IPE skills teach individuals how to:

  • Effectively ask for help or set limits while at the same time manage their emotions effectively.
  • Build healthy relationships with appropriate limits and boundaries.
  • End destructive relationships in appropriate ways.

Research indicates that depression symptoms are reduced when people are able to engage in and sustain healthy relationships. That’s why learning DBT-IPE skills is a win-win for both the person who struggles with emotion dysregulation as well as their family members and friends!


Dialectical Behavior Therapy at Pine Rest

Would you or a loved one like to learn DBT-IPE skills? We currently offer therapy for adults and teens in Grand Rapids and Traverse City. Call 866-852.4001 to make your first appointment. For more information, contact Katherine DeVries (Grand Rapids) at 616.222.3720 or Kym Hansen-Duell (Traverse City) at 231.947.2255.


For Family Members & Friends

Family members walking through field, holding handsOur Borderline Personality Disorder Family and Friends Class is a brief, 4-session educational series designed to increase understanding of the illness and equip family and friends of those with BPD with tools for coping effectively. Participants will learn about the symptoms and causes of BPD as well as coping tools. Weekly sessions will be a combination of education and discussion. Classes are offered in Grand Rapids and Traverse City. Learn more at pinerest.org/BPD or call 616.222.3720 (Grand Rapids) or 231.947.2255 (Traverse City).


Kym Hansen-Duell, LMSWKym Hansen-Duell, LMSW, ACSW is a licensed social worker at the Pine Rest Traverse City Clinic. Kym has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Central Michigan University and a Master of Social Work from Grand Valley State University. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and the Academy of Certified Social Workers. Kym is available to speak at community events on topics such as ADHD, depression, parenting, family issues and workplace stress.

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