A few months ago, I was introduced to the prospect of a new treatment plan by my therapist. That being DBT. DBT stands for Dialectical Behaviour Therapy and is an intensive treatment programme that consists of weekly individual therapy and group skills coaching, plus phone coaching when needed. One phrase you might hear quite often in relation to DBT is the focus on creating a life worth living, which is one of the key mottos of this specific therapy. I’m going to leave a link here to a really good article which explains all about DBT in much better detail than I can, as I’m still really learning about it myself. Just to be clear though, this isn’t a therapy to treat my OCD, I’m actually in a really good place with it at the moment. This treatment is concentrated towards several other issues I struggle with and thus are requiring a different approach. I figured that since this is a completely new chapter in my life and a new journey with regards to treatment, I would try to document my experience. Also hopefully, this may end up being useful to anyone in the future who is starting DBT and is looking for some information and personal experience.
I was very nervous at the prospect of starting something new with regards to treatment. I knew that I would have to open up and trust a new clinician (DBT therapist) and the role of my current therapist who’ve I’ve been seeing on a 1 to 1 basis for almost 3 years now would have to change to fit the format of DBT. It was agreed that my therapist would now take a family therapy role and offer fortnightly sessions to my parents and I (as family work can integrate quite well with the DBT format) and then my new DBT therapist would take on the weekly individual sessions and I would also attend a weekly 1hr 1/2 group skills sessions after finishing pre-treatment. It really has been difficult adjusting to the fact that my current therapist is no longer the person whom I go to for weekly sessions and that I have to learn to do that with someone new, but I am hopeful that DBT will really help me and that the transition will be worth it and that it will get easier with time.
I’m currently just finishing the pre-treatment phase of DBT, whereby we establish if this therapy would be suitable for my current situation (which we’ve found it is) and typically lasts for about 3-4 sessions in total. For me, in the first session we just went over a brief history of my time at CAMHS (child and adolescent mental health services), what difficulties I’ve found myself in over the years and where I’m at now. She also explained DBT and how it worked with regards to sessions and group therapy with some handouts and generally just got my feedback on whether or not I felt as if this type of work would be beneficial to me. In the second session, we started to set up a target hierarchy of behaviours so that we could establish what needed to be tackled first. A typical DBT hierarchy consists of these four categories; life-threatening behaviours, therapy interfering behaviours, quality of life interfering behaviour and skills acquisition. In the third and final session, I filled out a few questionnaires to again assess my current situation and mindset so that we had a baseline to assess progress from. We also reviewed my trial diary card that I had to fill in during the week in between sessions, which looked at documenting emotions and behaviours over 7 days (I shall do an in depth post on the diary cards once I’m used to them).
I’m actually starting group skills coaching tomorrow evening, which is making me quite nervous, but I’m intrigued as to what it will be like. I’ll again do a post on this aspect of DBT once I’ve had a number of sessions, but I’ll cover it on a general basis because of course, I have to be extremely respectful of confidentiality given that it’s not just me attending these sessions. There is, however, going to be some unavoidable complications due to my age, as I turn 18 in 3 and 1/2 months. Due to completing DBT whilst still under CAMHS, I will not longer be legally allowed to participate in the group skills coaching sessions after my 18th birthday. As then I’d be classed as an adult attending a therapy group with minors (U18s) which legally I’m not allowed to do. That being said, the treatment team have agreed to continue delivering the skills to me on an individual basis for the remaining 5-6 weeks left of the DBT treatment course, so that I don’t miss out and then I will be discharged from the service.
So hopefully this has offered a little bit of an insight into this new journey of mine with DBT. I’m truly hoping that at the end of this, I will be in a better place and will hopefully have many new skills to take to university with me. I just wish I could postpone my birthday, as my age messes things up. Let me know if any of you have had DBT before, as I really don’t know many people at all that have been through this treatment and if you have any questions, feel free to leave them below or tweet me. I’ll try my best to answer them as detailed as possible.
Hope you’re all well!