CLINICAL AFFECTIVE SCIENCES
01 / EMOTIONS
The Clinical Affective Science Lab (CASL) is housed within the department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. At CASL, our goal is to better understand the difficulties people have in their emotional experience or the ways that they regulate their emotions.
Emotions are an important part of our daily life. Emotions arise quickly, and involve feelings, physiological arousal, emotional expressions, and urges. Our emotions often provide important information about our surroundings, and can motivate us to act. Daily activities such as dealing with other people, managing stress, functioning at work, and simply getting through the day may all elicit emotions. So, many of these daily activities require some degree of emotion regulation.
Emotion regulation is the way we all change our experience or expression of emotions. For instance, we may use strategies to observe our emotions, increase emotions we want, decrease emotions we don't want, or use strategies to cope with our emotions while engaging in activities that are important to us.
02 / MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS
Some people struggle with emotion regulation difficulties on a chronic basis. People with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and related problems (e.g., self-injury, suicide attempts, substance use difficulties, intense emotional pain) have an especially difficult time regulating their emotions. As a result, much of our research focuses on the types of emotional difficulties experienced by persons with BPD or those who self-injure.
03 / TREATMENT
At the CASL, we also aim to understand how we can help people improve emotion regulation through effective treatment strategies. One such effective treatment is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan at the University of Washington.
Our research includes basic laboratory studies of emotions and emotion regulation with clinical (e.g., persons with BPD) and non-clinical (e.g., students) samples, as well as treatment research designed to figure out how and why treatment strategies work. Our research is currently funded by grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
Dr. Katherine L. Dixon-Gordon Ph.D.
Building/Room: Tobin 617