This morning I attended the first session of the DBT Skills Group I recently became enrolled in. Before going in, I was incredibly anxious – to the point of panic and dizziness – and couldn’t manage to get myself from the restroom (where I was hiding) into the therapy room on my own. I called my therapist, who luckily was scheduled to be there, and she came to my rescue with some Distress Tolerance ‘Crisis Coaching’. We did some grounding and breathing exercises together, and when I was feeling more settled, she guided me into the group room to join the others.
There were six of us in the group, plus the two therapists, and we all sat around a central table with a whiteboard at one end. The male therapist led the first half of the session, introducing us to the concept of Mindfulness – the first module we are covering, over the next 4 Saturdays. He explained what it is, what it is not, where it originates from, what it’s used to treat, what evidence we have to show for it’s effectiveness, etc.
We also went over the 3 What skills of Mindfulness:
And the 3 How skills:
After the first hour, I was still anxious and very wary, and the quietest one in the group by far. Although I felt confident in my knowledge of the content we were covering thanks to the many months I spent living in a residential intensive DBT setting, I was too anxious to answer any questions or speak up when offered the opportunity.
During the second half, however, I was much more regulated. Having had the chance to speak to a few of the other women outside in our break, I felt slightly more at ease in their company and within the situation. My therapist took over for the next hour, and introduced the idea of the 3 states of mind: Emotion Mind, Reasonable/Rational Mind, and Wise Mind. We explored each state and a few people offered examples of personal experiences in which their Emotion Mind had dominated a moment – a common experience in the life of a Borderline!
At the end of the group we were assigned a homework task which involves trying out some Mindfulness exercises for practicing Wise Mind. I will post the handouts below, as I will continue to do each week (except Week 2, as I will be away) after attending Group, so that I can share with you all the DBT Skills I am currently working on. Hopefully some of them will be beneficial to you as well. I urge you to give them a try: