So this week I went to my first ever DBT session (also known as dialectical behaviour therapy) and before I went I was pretty nervous about it all. In fact, at one point when I was sat in the waiting room, I considered walking out because I was so nervous but I decided to man up and get on with it, and to be honest I’m glad I did. This is the best treatment out there for me. Marsha Linehan, who developed the therapy, has struggled a lot as well so it has to have a bit more insight to what I go through than CBT or schema therapy (I hope) and it’s a longer course so I have the chance to really ground myself in these skills.
The thing is when I searched DBT there was a lot of practitioner information but nothing for the person attending, so I thought I’d share my experiences and thoughts week by week* for anyone considering or on a waitlist for DBT so you can get an idea what it’s like.
*Please remember not all groups are run the same way and your experiences may be different to mine. There is no right or wrong as everyone is different, this is just meant as a little insight into the topic for those who are interested.
This week’s topic was mindfulness. One I’m familiar with and have spoken about a few times before. It means different things to different people, but it’s a core skill for DBT in the sense that in order to identify behaviours and reactions that negatively impact life we first need to be able to recognise them.
We discussed the concept of wise mind which takes into account the rational, logical side of the mind as well as the emotional, urge driven side and how combining these helps us to react mindfully. And then went on to examine the goals of mindfulness practice, the skills required and how this could fit into our daily lives as well as engaging in visualisation practice and a mindful observation practice.
As I said at the beginning I was very nervous before I went in. Large groups (especially of people I don’t know) make me anxious. But everyone was friendly and welcoming and the other newcomers seemed to be a little unsure as well. Because all the baseline outcome measure paperwork and ground rules had to be completed this session there was a lot of being talked at but I’m reserving judgment on whether that’s a regular occurrence until I have been a few times.
As the session went on I relaxed a little more and started to share my opinions on things. I found the visualisation exercise very difficult as my mind kept trying to analyse the scenario rather than focussing on the mindfulness of the activity. Still, I know that breathing techniques or mindful movement (yoga or tai chi) are more my style.
Each week we’re given ‘homework’ to help us practice the skills in everyday life. While the phrase homework makes my skin crawl a little I know that getting back into a daily mindfulness practice will help with so many different aspects of my life.
I have my weekly diary sheets to keep track of my emotions and the skills I’m using and a specific mindfulness worksheet to detail daily how I practiced mindfulness, what I experienced during my practice and how I feel afterward. So my goal for this week is:
To practice a different type of mindfulness each day and record it on my worksheet ready for discussion at the group.
I’ll let you know how I got on next week – wish me luck.