DBT Pain and Suffering

Throughout  DBT pain and suffering are substantially important themes. Within the constructs of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT treatment) one goal is for individuals to accept the pain and move from the subsequent suffering into joy, harmony, and happiness. What is pain and suffering, and how do we move beyond to create a life worth living in the here and now?

Pain is a distressing feeling or sensation that calls the person to action to reduce the painful situation. Pain is meant to be temporary and is considered to be objective. Pain is an uncomfortable sensation, and all individuals can experience similar pain. The individual must lean into the pain, accept it and develop a plan to push past it. Through radical acceptance, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance the individual can learn to tolerate the discomfort of pain until he or she is able to create a plan for resolution. Through continuing to practice radical acceptance, participating effectively and becoming mindful, the individual can reduce the pain whether it is emotional, psychological, or physical.

Suffering is the choice of prolonging the experience of pain. Suffering is a subjective experience which is an emotion-driven view of how pain affects the individual. Suffering is a non-accepting of the here and now situation. It is important to stay in the here and now because when an individual is in the midst of suffering, they are suffering of their past, present, and future pain caused by distorted thinking and irrational beliefs. When the individual does not accept the pain he or she is experiencing, distorted thinking and irrational beliefs arise which create suffering that impacts the individual very deeply. Suffering is a choice to continue in the painful situation and affects many different people in many different ways. If suffering is a choice, then the individual can choose to step out of suffering as well.

So how does the individual bring an end to the suffering? The person must become mindful of choices and thinking, accept what happened, control the emotional response, learn to tolerate the distress, and attend to relationships with self and others. The person needs to learn how to stop making it worse and how to move forward by thinking, believing, and behaving effectively. The core of the Meehl Foundation residential DBT treatment program is doing what is effective.  So when the individual accepts the reality in the moment the, “here and now”, he or she learns to reduce pain to a bearable level and to prevent pain from becoming undue suffering.