When I was at my lowest low several years ago, I began seeing a personal counselor for moral support and to have someone to talk to who had expertise to deal with the difficulties I was facing. Since the emotions I was feeling at the time were so strong, she recommended I attend a DBT class (ie: Dialectic Behavior Therapy) to gain some fresh skills for handling my overwhelming (and sometimes suicidal) emotional reactions to an on-going crisis in my life.
Since DBT was so helpful to me, I thought I’d take some time on this blog to share some of the insights and skills I developed through the program. A number of followers of this blog and my Facebook page have expressed interest in hearing more about my experiences with DBT.
DBT is a six month program taught through mental health clinics which can be taken twice. I’m on my second time through. Soon it will be a full two years of DBT classes. Wow. It feels like it’s gone by fast. I’m gaining further insight this second round of classes, but I’m also seeing how much I’ve grown in my ability to implement and understand the skills I’ve learned. The group I’m in meets once a week with a required weekly meeting with a personal counselor for follow-up in using the skills.
A quick overview of DBT:
It was developed in the 1980s by psychologist Marsha Linehan, originally to treat patients with Borderline Personality Disorder. Since that time, DBT is being used for people with all sorts of emotional regulation issues. Everything from suicidal ideation to depression to Bipolar mania. It’s useful for anyone who reacts strongly to emotional stimuli in ways that negatively effect their lives.
In my case, I’d become so overwhelmed with sadness, that life felt unbearable and utterly hopeless. I was surprised to discover that even an emotion like sadness could be regulated with the right skills. Prior to DBT, I was frightened to start crying, because I thought if I started, I’d never stop.
The main topics covered in DBT are:
- Interpersonal Effectiveness
- Distress Tolerance
- Emotional Regulation
I’ve personally found the Mindfulness and Distress Tolerance sections to be the most helpful. I’m sure it’s different for everyone since we all deal with different issues and emotionally triggering events in our lives.
My plan is to start going through my notebook from my DBT class and writing about various insights I’ve had through the program. I can’t share the entirety of the class due to copyright issues, but I can share my personal reactions to the units and the teachings.
There are a variety of books, workbooks, and other resources on DBT and I’ll probably be recommending some of those as we go along.
If someone you know is struggling with overwhelming emotions, or difficulties working through strong feelings, feel free to let them know about this blog. It won’t take me six months to get through my thoughts on the topic, so don’t worry. I’ll probably share a post once or twice a week for about six weeks. Maybe less. Maybe more. 🙂
And here’s yesterday’s watercolor project. Spring is coming!