On Monday I attended my first group session of DBT (dialectical behaviour therapy). I’m accessing DBT through the local eating disorder service and the set up is that we attend a weekly skills training group which lasts 2.5 hours and then we have a 1:1 session to talk through things on a more personal basis.
DBT skills training aims to decrease behaviours such as acting on impulse as well as decreasing intense and unstable emotions, relationship difficulties and confusion about self and troubling thoughts. At the same time skills training aims to increase interpersonal effectiveness which focuses on developing the skills to say no to unwanted requests, for example. It also aims to regulate emotions by further enhancing control of emotions, not complete control as that is not a realistic goal but some control. Skills training also teaches the skill of distress tolerance and mindfulness.
They showed us ‘The House of DBT’ which is a model of DBT showing that mindfulness is the foundation and then each storey is a module of DBT. The modules are: Interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation and distress tolerance. However, as it was an eating disorder group they showed us the ‘Trifle of DBT’, I am sure it was meant with goodwill but I couldn’t help feeling it was a little mickey taking. Maybe I just don’t share their sense of humour.
We spoke about mindfulness a little. I know many people who find it helpful and use it but as of yet I have not quite found a way to click with it. I have tried several times and with several different people teaching it. I am willing to give it another shot in DBT but it is something I hugely struggle with.
The group recommended a book, so if you’re reading this and would like to read more about mindfulness why not try ‘Mindfulness: Finding peace in a frantic world’ http://www.franticworld.com
We did a quick mindfulness activity. We had to go around the circle and each say three words which linked up to make a story but we had to focus on what people were saying and try to recognise all the other thoughts we were having. I was the only new member of the group and with my anxiety and lack of mindfulness skills I absolutely hated it. I certainly recognised my thoughts of not being good enough, letting everyone down and wanting it to be over.
We have to fill out diary sheets everyday, I’ve got the hang of them now but they are rather complicated, lots of boxes and numbers and abbreviations.
I was incredibly anxious before starting this group. I felt sick and had sleepless nights in the run up but when I got there it was actually fine, more than fine. In fact it was kind of funny at times, like when the fire alarm went off and we were stood outside quoting Buddy the Elf. It wasn’t all doom and gloom. If you are nervous about starting a new group therapy, please know that almost always the thought of going is way worse than the actual thing. I will keep updating on my journey through DBT, especially if I learn something I think may help others.