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Radically Open-Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Disorders of Over-Control: Signaling Matters

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Radically Open-Dialectical Behavior Therapy (RO-DBT) is a transdiagnostic treatment designed to address a spectrum of difficult-to-treat disorders sharing similar phenotypic and genotypic features associated with maladaptive over-control—such as anorexia nervosa, chronic depression, and obsessive compulsive personality disorder. Over-control has been linked to social isolation, aloof and distant relationships, cognitive rigidity, high detailedfocused processing, risk aversion, strong needs for structure, inhibited emotional expression, and hyper-perfectionism. While resting on the dialectical underpinnings of standard DBT, the therapeutic strategies, core skills, and theoretical perspectives in RO-DBT often substantially differ. For example, RO-DBT contends that emotional loneliness secondary to low openness and social-signaling deficits represents the core problem of over-control, not emotion dysregulation. RO-DBT also significantly differs from other treatment approaches, most notably by linking the communicative functions of emotional expression to the formation of close social bonds and via skills targeting social-signaling and changing neurophysiological arousal. The aim of this paper is to provide a brief overview of the core theoretical principles and unique treatment strategies underlying RO-DBT.
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Keywords: DIALECTICAL BEHAVIOR THERAPY; EMOTION INHIBITION; PSYCHOLOGICAL FLEXIBILITY; RADICAL OPENNESS; SOCIAL SIGNALING

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Psychology, University of Southampton, Highfield Campus, Southampton, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2015

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