The Garden of Emotions Metaphor in DBT


United States Department of Homeland Security

Key Points

  1. Many of us try to control emotions in a way that was modeled to us.
  2. This especially applies to individuals who have been traumatized and emotionally abused.
  3. The main goal of TF-DBT is to see and treat our emotions the same way you would see and treat a garden.
  4. If you want a healthy garden, it would make no sense to control, coerce, manipulate, guilt, or avoid the flowers.
  5. What flowers and emotions need to survive, thrive, and stabilize is to be nurtured and cultivated.
  6. TF-DBT has six interventions to nurture a garden of emotions. Each of these strategies is a metaphor:
    • Plant the right seeds
    • Weed out myths
    • Check the soil
    • Pest control
    • Take care of the garden
    • Fertilize

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