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Current research is beginning to show that temperament plays a role in the development of mood and anxiety disorders. In Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy, temperament lies on a spectrum, with overcontrolled vs undercontrolled personality types at each end. Here’s what traits each of these distinct personality types might look like:

Overcontrolled (OC)

  • Detail-oriented
  • Threat-sensitive
  • Great inhibitory control
  • Not easily impressed
  • Rigid or perfectionistic
  • Avoidant of risk and novel experineces

Undercontrolled (UC)

  • Global focused processing
  • High sensitivity to reward
  • Less cautious or sensitive to threat
  • Uninhibited
  • Emotionally expressive; dramatic
  • Actively seek new experiences, sensations and more risk-taking

A combination of genetic, environmental and learned factors contributes to whether an individual leans one way or the other.

The vast majority of people are what we call “flexibly controlled,” leaning to the overcontrol or undercontrol side — yet having flexibility in their coping and responses. Neither side of the spectrum (over- or undercontrolled) is considered better or worse. But, being at an extreme in either direction, on this spectrum could lead to one’s suffering.

What is RO DBT?

Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy (RO DBT) is a cutting-edge, evidence-based treatment offering patients a practical framework for learning from their environments, making meaningful changes to connect with others and improving their relationships.

For example, we know that emotionally over-controlled people tend to be perfectionistic, organized and detail-oriented; they avoid risks and view new people and situations as threatening. As a result, these individuals experience social isolation, poor interpersonal functioning and emotional loneliness, as well as higher rates of anxiety and chronic depression.

When working with patients, Pathlight's RO DBT therapists emphasize three core therapeutic areas:

  • Openness: Teaches receptiveness to feedback and constructive criticism; this can be difficult for those with a high sense of control and threat sensitivity
  • Flexibility: Teaches adaptability; this is important because behavior in one situation might not be appropriate in another situation
  • Connectedness: Teaches emotional recognition and emotional expression; these valuable skills support appropriate intimacy and healthy relationships

Radical openness is the core skill of RO DBT, and it involves compassionately exploring our “personal unknown.” In other words, radical openness teaches us to doubt or question ourselves, our beliefs and our behavior in order to learn from our environment. Radical openness enhances our relationships because it models humility and the willingness to learn from what the world has to offer. Radical openness contends that emotional well-being involves three things: openness, flexibility and social connectedness.

Find an RO DBT therapist

Pathlight is one of only a handful of treatment centers utilizing this valuable innovative new therapy. A number of our clinical leaders have trained directly with RO DBT founder Thomas Lynch, PhD to master this innovative approach. Our treatment team brings this compassionate expertise to the treatment setting to help patients work towards richer, more rewarding emotional lives. Contact us to work directly with one of our knowlegeable RO DBT therapists.