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DBT Purpose Of Emotions (PDF)

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Emotions have important functions in our lives as they affect our behaviors and actions, and help us communicate with others and ourselves. We experience emotions as reactions that arise in response to events or situations. Understanding these emotions is an aspect of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and we also learn that emotions have three main functions.

The DBT Purpose of Emotions PDF handout explains the fundamental functions of our emotions: they motivate, help us communicate, and validate our internal experiences or perceptions. Each primary function is accompanied by more information about its purpose, some examples, and helpful reminders.

Using this handout helps kids and teens develop or strengthen their emotional intelligence, which has positive effects on stress management and maintaining healthy relationships with their peers. Encourage them to use this resource to support them through different challenges, such as peer pressure, disagreements with siblings, or whenever receiving feedback from school or extracurricular performances.

This handout can be a helpful addition to DBT lessons on Emotion Regulation.

*This item is an instant digital download. A link to download your files will be emailed to you once payment is confirmed.

Want more resources like this? Check out our full catalog of DBT worksheets and handouts.


  1. Izard, C. E. (2011). Forms and Functions of Emotions: Matters of Emotion–Cognition Interactions. Emotion Review, 3(4), 371–378. https://doi.org/10.1177/1754073911410737
  2. Mazza, J. J., Dexter-Mazza, E. T., Miller, A. L., Rathus, J. H., & Murphy, H. E. (2016). DBT? Skills in schools: Skills training for emotional problem solving for adolescents Dbt Steps-a. Guilford Publications.
  3. Polo, C., Lund, K., Plantin, C., & Niccolaï, G. P. (2016). Group emotions: the social and cognitive functions of emotions in argumentation. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 11(2), 123–156. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11412-016-9232-8
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  • File: PDF
  • Size: 8.5" x 11"

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