DBT Self Help - Letting Go

Emotion Regulation is the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy module that teaches how emotions work. It provides skills to help manage emotions instead of being managed by them, reduce vulnerability to negative emotions, and build positive emotional experiences.


We all experience nightmares from time to time. Many folks who have trauma or anxiety experience recurring nightmares. DBT has a skill for what to do when recurring nightmares keep you from sleeping. The idea behind Nightmare Protocol is that you are in control of your dream. You are capable of changing what happens and what you feel. If you create and practice those changes in advance, they will show up in your dream. 

  1. Practice coping skills first to be ready to work on changing your nightmare
    1. Try relaxation techniques, self-soothe, and/or Wise Mind exercises
  2. Choose a recurring nightmare to work on
    1. Know your limits. Consider putting off working on a trauma nightmare until you’re ready to work on it. If choosing a trauma nightmare, skip step 3
  3. Write down your nightmare
    1. Record sensory descriptions and thoughts, feelings, and assumptions you have about yourself during the dream
  4. Choose a new outcome for the nightmare
    1. Make sure this change occurs before anything bad or traumatic happens to you or others in the nightmare. Create a change that prevents this and that will have you waking up with a sense of peace.
    2. Don’t be afraid to get weird! Get superpowers, turn the dinosaur into a unicorn, whatever it takes.
    3. Changes can also mean changing the thoughts, feelings, or assumptions you have about yourself in the nightmare.
  5. Write down the full nightmare with the change
  6. Each night before sleep, rehearse the changed nightmare and then practice relaxation exercises
  7. During the day, visualize the dream and practice relaxation techniques