This emerging blogger post by Tina from Really Real Blog is about the value of dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) skills.
The most life changing program for my mental health has been my DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) Skills Classes. DBT is a method created by Marsha M. Linehan, originally to treat Borderline Personality Disorder, however, now it is used to treat many mental health diagnoses that cause emotional distress.
My class is taught in a group setting once a week for 6 months, and I’m about to enter the last 6 week module. In the past four and a half months I’ve gotten so much better at Emotion Regulation, Mindfulness, and Distress Tolerance and this next module will cover skills in Interpersonal Effectiveness.
One of the skills taught in DBT is Dialectics. One part of Dialectics is when two opposing things are both true at the same time.
You can be mad at someone and still love them. It can be sunny and raining. You can believe something strongly and be wrong.
And in my case the other day, I really love experiencing new things, and new experiences make me incredibly anxious.
Here’s what happened. My girlfriend and I had a great date day together. To end the day she decided to take me out to dinner for fondue which is something I have never done before. It was a new restaurant with a new style of food and a new way of eating. I loved the idea, but I was super anxious and almost told her I couldn’t do it because my anxiety was a 4 out of 5. I spent a lot of time ruminating, ramping up the anxiety, getting worse. I was alternating between wanting to run and wanting to lash out so we’d just end the day early and go home.
But I remembered Dialectics.
I can be anxious AND really enjoy the experience.
So instead I spoke to her about it. I told her how anxious the idea of a new place was making me but that I really wanted to go. She gave me more details and told me what I could expect at dinner. Being heard and understood helped lessen some, but not all of my anxiety.
I was still pretty anxious going into the restaurant but I was able to sit with it and by the end of dinner I had a fantastic time and I’m so glad we went.
DBT skills often seem simple on the surface, but they are the little things that we don’t think to do when we are in a heated moment. Having a specific blueprint, a list of skills to work through in those moments, has been radically life changing for me.
I wish more people knew about and could experience this type of therapy.
Tina defines herself as a Self Saving Warrior Princess. After a lifetime of joy and sadness, trauma and triumph, she can be found writing about widowhood, mental health, and radical vulnerability over at http://www.reallyrealblog.com.