Affect Regulation / Emotion Regulation

Affect regulation, or emotion regulation, is the ability of an individual to modulate their emotional state in order to adaptively meet the demands of their environment. Individuals with a broad range of affect regulation strategies will be able to flexibly adapt to a range of stressful situations. Individuals with a more limited emotional regulation abilities may fall back upon a more limited range of stereotyped strategies that are not as successful in meeting their needs, or which come with more severe unintended consequences. The ability to successfully regulate emotion is often viewed in the light of attachment theory (Bowlby, 1969/1982).


  • Emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and distress tolerance skills for adolescents: A treatment manual - Charlers Bonner

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)

DBT handouts are available at, including:

  • Check the facts worksheet
  • Letting go of emotional suffering
  • Ways to manage distress right now

Mentalisation based therapy (MBT)

Other resources

The Centre for Clinical Interventions (CCI) is an Australian mental health organisation that conducts research, provides training and supervision, and offers a clinical service. They have made some emotional regulation / distress tolerance resources.

St Michael's Hospital have also developed an emotional regulation group incorporating mindfulness.

Distress Intolerance

Self-help Programme

  1. Understanding distress intolerance
  2. Accepting distress
  3. Improving distress
  4. Tolerating distress

Mindful Awareness Stabilization Training


  1. Session 1 – Mindfulness and the window of tolerance
  2. Session 2 – Mindfulness and the brain
  3. Session 3 – Mindfulness and emotions
  4. Session 4 – Developing an action plan for self care


  1. Track 1 – Mindfulness of the senses
  2. Track 2 – Three minute breathing space
  3. Track 3 – Mindfulness of breath
  4. Track 4 – Meditation of sounds
  5. Track 5 – Mindfulness of emotions
  6. Track 6 – Standing meditation
  7. Track 7 – Self-compassion meditation

Key reading

  • Bowlby, J. (1969/1982). Attachment and loss: Vol. 1. Attachment (2nd edition). New York: Basic Books