About eight months ago I started Dialectical Behaviour therapy.  I knew it was going to be difficult, but it is not at all like any other type of therapy program that I’ve been involved with.  It really caught me off guard and I found myself discouraged at times. So,  I thought it would be a good idea to write a post about what I’ve learned about the nature of this treatment so that others know what to expect.

The treatment is extremely self-directed.  

What you get out is directly matched by what you put in.  The types of skills you learn need to be built and maintained.    Much of what you do needs to be reflected upon and analyzed,  though your one on one will guide you with this, I’ve found it to be very much a singular process.

You are going to have to face the deepest darkest parts of yourself.  

I often think about quitting treatment.  But ultimately what I realize is the reason I want to retreat is because I’m not being coddled with an “it’s not your fault” attitude.  I’m forced to look my mistakes, contributions, and problem behaviours directly in the face.  That kind of honesty can be really unsettling at times.  I’ve had to completely alter my perceptions of the nature of certain relationships in my life because of the work I’ve done.  In the interest of being completely honest, I haven’t necessarily liked everything that I have seen about myself.

This program is a tough love routine.  

There are times when things will seem cold, extremely cold.    But I assure you that there is likely a reason for it.  With DBT you are ultimately trying to reprogram your responses to certain situations.  It is possible that the reaction you are receiving is meant to demonstrate the message that your behaviour is inappropriate.  When you want to run away, try going in and talking about it instead.  It’s possible that unconscious motivators could be uncovered.

Ultimately engaging in this treatment is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  I am constantly having to challenge myself and my perceptions.  There are many times that I have wanted to walk away and then I have a day where I see the positive influence therapy is having on my life and I’m reminded why I’ve held on through all the bad days and difficult sessions.  I used to believe I couldn’t control my thoughts or emotions, but DBT has taught me how in so many ways and I’m seeing that the times I feel ineffective are the times I’ve stopped putting the effort in.  This isn’t the type of program where you’ll just graduate and be cured.  It is something that you’ll have to continue to put effort into every day but the benefits are well worth it from what I’ve seen so far.

DBT® Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets contains all the materials used during my sessions.  I find it is handy to be able to refer back to this if we’re working on a different module in session.

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