Clash

Clash of Skills and Therapy


Question:
I started DBT and I hate it. I was feeling so bad when I went there and when I told them everyone got mad at me. I don't know if I ever want to go back.


Answer:
I had a very similar experience when I went to my first DBT group in 1999. It was the first session and I had shared that I felt suicidal. The leader abruptly told me not to speak about it. I was confused about the rules and had participated in group therapy before where that sort of thing was allowed.

Like you, it wasn't something easy to say and then when I did, I was berated and unacknowledged which did nothing for my already devastated emotions. I stayed in that group about a month, but could never feel comfortable after such a difficult beginning. I suppose I was filled with shame.

I wish that when I had that first experience, I could have been easier on myself and realized that the fact that I didn't know how to share appropriately didn't mean I was a bad person. When I joined a different DBT group, I was more cautious. I made sure I knew the rules about appropriate sharing in this type of group. I'm so glad I did and stayed with the program because I believe DBT has been a major factor in saving my life and helping me get better.


All this is just to say, don't judge all of DBT by one therapist or one group. I would encourage you to try another group. It does take some getting used to -- the way you spend group time learning skills rather than processing emotions. But really, it's just a matter of expectations. When you know what to expect, then you can abide in that manner and be prepared to do the more emotional work with the individual therapist.

I applaud you for your courage in handling the situation.

Lisa

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