486 | How to Learn Emotional Regulation with Vanessa Gorelkin

486 | How to Learn Emotional Regulation with Vanessa Gorelkin

In this episode, Eric is joined by Vanessa Gorelkin! Vanessa is an east-coast transplant to Arizona where she lives with her son and husband (who both have ADHD)!  She graduated with a B.A. from Brandeis University and has a masters degree in Occupational Therapy from New York University. 

Vanessa is also a Licensed Occupational Therapist in Arizona, and her career spans nearly 30 years!  She has served in both clinical and executive leadership roles, works with people all over the world, and is passionate about bringing out the best in all the people she works with!

Learn more about Vanessa by visiting her website at & find her on Instagram at @humanist_therapist 

In today’s show, you’ll hear about mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and acceptance and commitment based therapy (ACT).  Then, you’ll hear about deep breathing, using spicy food or sour candies to help regulate, setting boundaries, practicing self-compassion and resilience.  Finally, you’ll listen to ways to work on activation, sensory processing issues and the nervous system, sensory accommodations, and the importance of breaking down activities into smaller steps.  


  • [00:02:18] Introducing Vanessa
  • [00:04:00] The importance of emotional self-regulation
  • [00:04:51] What is an Occupational Therapist (OT)?
  • [00:06:19] How does an OT help people with ADHD around emotional regulation skills?
  • [00:07:30] What is acceptance and commitment based therapy (ACT)? What about radical acceptance?
  • [00:08:23] What is dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)?
  • [00:09:50] Living with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
  • [00:10:52] A discussion on rejection sensitivity, BPD, ADHD, and trauma
  • [00:17:28] Eric asks Vanessa about the common “chief complaints” she experiences in her practice
  • [00:18:48] What are some examples of the skills Vanessa helps clients work with, and how does she help them do that?
  • [00:20:34] What do I do when my brain gets “hijacked?” and TIPP skills
  • [00:24:59] Vanessa talks about sour and spicy for regulation
  • [00:27:14] Proactive skills vs. responding in-the-moment
  • [00:31:18] The intersectionality between anger, boundaries, and boundary violations
  • [00:32:26] ** You need to hear this.
  • [00:33:03] External pressures, checking your calendar, and your right to say “no”
  • [00:35:15] Saying “no” when it feels bad, and therapy vs. coaching
  • [00:37:26] What is the OT approach for activation?
  • [00:43:18] Sensory processing issues being missed with ADHD
  • [00:45:24] Does sensory processing get worse with age?
  • [00:49:34] Closing Thoughts

Resources & Honorable Mentions:

  • “People sometimes get really hung up on a diagnosis… What my attitude about a diagnosis is:  It helps us understand what tools we can use, but it does not define you as a human being.” – Vanessa 
  • “Masquerading as normal is exhausting.” – Eric

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