The great savior

And here comes the second informational post of the day.  This post will concern a different type of therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). 

Once again, I am in no way advocating that this therapy will work for any single individual.

Now for the links:

Wikipedia here.

This link is connected to the originator of DBT.  The information here is very scientific and clinical.

Site with an enormous amount of information here, but keep in mind, the creators of the website are not professional therapists trained in DBT.

With links for the informational part, here goes with my part.

Everything below this point is personal experience and in no way is meant to presume that the situations, feelings, or reactions are the same or even similar to your own.

Being hospitalized in October was not the first time, nor was it my first experience with IOP.  [If this is the first you have heard about any of this, please see related post here.]  During my previous two trips to the hospital and through IOP, the therapy modal was DBT.  Now, please allow me to say now, that I personally find both of these therapies to be incredibly effective for me.  My memory of events concerning DBT will not be as clear as my previous post about CBT for the simple matter that it has been years since I have actively gone through DBT therapy.  Additionally, since a majority of DBT has to do with coping skills, there are some aspects that I seem to have incorporated into my coping toolbox without being aware when I am using them.  I know, that’s the point, right?

When I first heard about DBT, I didn’t really understand how it would help me.  It is a therapy that requires full participation by the patient and therapist.  This was also presented to me in a group therapy setting, so please be aware that when I say that I did/was led to something, the group and the therapist are implied. 

One of the basic tenets of DBT is the concept of mindfulness.  The idea behind this is being aware, cataloging, and accepting our emotions as they present.  There are specific steps that are outlined in the above articles, so I am not going to go into too much detail.  But I learned to pay more attention to my environment or activity, to notice emotions as they came without judging, and allowing them to flow away from me without acting on them.  This probably helps me break that lock on my negative core belliefs I discussed with CBT.  All of this preparation is so that I may handle situations differently.  This is the first step in Distress Tolerance, a key ideal in DBT.  Many different therapy modalities work under the premise of changing the situation causing pain or finding meaning in the pain.  DBT works to help you tolerate the pain.  In my mind, I liken it to mental yoga.  When you can use DBT effectively, you bend rather than break under the pressure.  Since there will always be pain and pressure in our world, I find this therapy extremely useful for just about everyone in my mind.  🙂

Mindfulness, although not always easy for me to remember or do, has had good effects on more than just my mental health.  I am firmly of the belief that I am a better artist for learning to be aware of my environment (internal and external), allow thoughts and emotions to flow through me as I study something, and to attempt to reproduce my observations without judgement.  Even a year ago, there is no way that I would have posted any of the pictures of my art that y’all have seen.  I was far too judgemental of my own skills.  Over time, though, my level of judgement has dropped overall, even if certain situations bring it to the fore.

Mindfulnes is only one portion of the skills taught to assist in distress tolerance.  To be able to tolerate more problems/stress/distress, this therapy also teaches emotional regulation.  To me, this was analogous to clipping the tops (and troughs) off the waves of emotions battering me.  The initial impact was lessened and the reaction was as well.  There were several acronyms used to help me remember what to do in any given situation.  Although I don’t remember the strategies and coping skills as they are taught, when I go back to my old worksheets or look over the concepts, I can see how they have been integrated into my coping toolbox.

I realize that this post is significantly shorter than the previous one.  This in no way has anything to do with the effectiveness of either therapy.  This post is shorter for several reasons.  Because it has been much longer since I had DBT therapy, I cannot recall concrete examples.  Additionally, CBT has a simple, specific order of concepts.  DBT is much more complex and has a great number of steps.  Because the literature goes into detail in a way I cannot, I feel no need to repeat what professionals can say better than I.  If I could remember personal examples, I would certainly add them.

The dichotomy in the titles wass used purposefully.  Any given therapist may tell you that therapy X will do wonders for you and you will feel so much better, blah, blah, blah.  The next therapist might say that that therapy is the most useless thing on this earth.  Fact of the matter is, the value of any therapy is only important in how it pertains directly to assisting you in living your life.  If it helps you, it doesn’t matter if it is “supposed” to.

Looking back on my years of treatment, where I started, and where I am now, I can honestly say that both of these therapies (among others) have had a great effect on me.  I share this story, not because I think I am just like you, but because I hope that knowing there might be multiple therapies out there to help you find a more stable place from which to live gives you hope.  I don’t believe that any single therapy would work for me.  I am a complex individual, why would I think that a simple post-it note is going to know all about me?  Even a pamplet or short story isn’t going to cover me.  I am a multi-colored set of encyclopedias full of information that no one has ever seen before!


~ by theartistryofthebipolarbrain on March 2, 2012.

7 Responses to “The great savior”

  1. Once again, great post. Well said, informative without being preachy and comes from a non-judgmental place.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing! I agree with what you say – we (as humans) are complex. And not every answer is the full and complete answer. But sometimes bits and pieces can make a whole. And it sounds like you’ve taken the bits of each therapy that have worked for you and melded them together…to work for you.

    And can I just say I’m really glad you post your art. It’s beautiful. *hugs*

    • I think the hard part about being treatment (for physical or emotional or addiction illnesses) is remembering that no single treatment will fix everything every time. Some treatments will work, but have horrible side effects; some treatments will only work on one segment of the problem; and some treatments will not work for you at all. That doesn’t negate their efficacy for someone else, it just means that they don’t work for you.

      I think keeping an open mind about treatment is the biggest gift we can give ourselves.

      And thank you for the compliment about my art. I do love working at it. Knowing that others appreciate my efforts (whether they appreciate my skill or not is another question 😉 ), helps me to keep working on something that soothes me so much.

  3. I agree with ekr1984, informative and well written, and you talk from experience, and not by preaching.

    I will be writing another piece this week, on triggers and rage, based on my experience as a caregiver, and if you don’t mind, I’d like to add a kink towards your blog as a reference for information. Would you be comfortable with this?


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