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Coping Skills from DBT: Managing Life's Both Big and Little Emotions

By Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences

Monday, November 5, 2018 6:00pm to 8:00pm

600 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94158

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Ursula Whiteside, PhD
Executive Director


Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a research-supported treatment for suicidal people that has been found to be effective for a wide range of other substance abuse and mental health concerns. One essential component of DBT is a class that teaches coping skills for managing emotions, and these strategies can be helpful for many people with or without diagnosable struggles. In fact, these strategies are taught outside of therapy as part of executive management and undergraduate courses. In this presentation, you will learn specific strategies to manage day-to-day emotions as well as completely overwhelming emotions. The strategies that will be discussed are called Opposite Action, Mindfulness of Current Emotion, and Paced Breathing. There will also be a surprise bonus strategy that will involve a live (and lively) demonstration!

The presentation will also describe a free online resource called Originally funded by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), offers videos of people who have experienced suicidal thoughts and behaviors teaching coping strategies like the ones described above. For people experiencing overwhelming suicidal thoughts, visits to the website are related to significant reductions in their suicidal thoughts and negative emotions in as little as eight minutes. These and other research findings from the website will be discussed.

Dr. Ursula Whiteside is a licensed clinical psychologist, Executive Director of and Clinical Faculty at the University of Washington. As a researcher, she has been awarded grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Dr. Whiteside is co-principal investigator on a study involving 18,000 high-risk suicidal patients in four major health systems. This study includes a guided version of, a program she developed that includes skills for managing suicidal thoughts based on Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and paired with lived experience stories.

Clinically, she began her training with Dr. Marsha Linehan in 1999 who she worked on a daily basis with until her internship began in 2009. During graduate school she served as a DBT-adherent research therapist on a NIMH-funded clinical trial led by Dr. Linehan. Dr. Whiteside is a group and individual certified DBT clinician. Now, she treats high-risk suicidal clients in her small private practice in Seattle using DBT and caring contacts.

Dr. Whiteside is national faculty for the Zero Suicide initiative, a practical approach to suicide prevention in health care and behavioral healthcare systems. This program was recently described by NPR on a segment titled “What Happens If You Try to Prevent Every Single Suicide?” Dr. Whiteside serves on the faculty of the National Action Alliance Zero Suicide Academy. She is also a founding board member of United Suicide Survivors International and a member of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Standards Trainings and Practices Committee.

As a person with lived experience, she strives to decrease the gap between "us and them" and to ensure that the voices of those who have been there are included in all relevant conversations: nothing about us without us.


Sponsored by the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Research Connection Program

Event Details

  • Nadja Burgess

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