Our day to day patterns of behaviour emerge from the promptings emanating from our inner world. The most of us, our goal in life is to be able to choose behaviours that are congruent with our values and vision for our lives. We increase our freedom to choose behaviours by growing in awareness of our inner world, different from being mindlessly and impulsively dictated to by thoughts and emotions that emerge within us.
The primary objective of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) then, is to equip us with skills that will facilitate this growth process toward increasing our freedom to choose our behaviour, particularly in our relationships with others.
A dialectic can be likened to an internal debate that we have with ourselves. DBT urges us to be more aware of this inner debate, and accept the reality of the inner conflicts that emerge between competing needs and emotions. Much of life involves compromises between competing inner demands and wants. A dialectical domain then is an area of life where you have to struggle to negotiate two different, frequently competing sets of needs and wants. Dialectical problem solving assumes that you have to compromise. You have to give up something in order to get something else. You have to move from an extreme end of a continuum toward a different position. Dialectics are found around emotions, thoughts, values, needs and how these impact on our behaviour in relationships.
DBT is a therapy that facilitates a growing consciousness of inner dialectic conflicts and offers us skills to direct our inner beings in a way that enhances our well being. The therapy encourages us to embrace the assumption that inner conflict is a part of life, unavoidable and natural. If we accept this assumption, we will begin to experience a decreased sense of urgency to resolve your inner conflicts.
In essence, DBT guides us towards walking that middle path of how to change ‘what is’ and how to accept ‘what is.’
The course comprises of 4 skills modules:
- Mindfulness Skills
- Emotion Regulation Skills
- Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills
- Distress Tolerance Skills
Below is an outline of these four skills.
Mindfulness is developing awareness. It is about being in touch with ourselves, paying attention to our inner world. It is about us waking up and living in harmony with ourselves and the world.
The skills taught are as follows:
- How to observe and experience reality as it is, by being less judgemental and by living in the moment with effectiveness.
- Balancing ‘Doing Mind’ and ‘Being Mind’: balancing two seeming polarities – working to achieve goals, while at the same time letting go of attachment to achieving goals.
- Accessing your ‘Wise Mind’ – walking a middle path. Developing skills for finding a synthesis of extremes.
Emotional Regulation Skills
Feelings are complex processes within us precisely because we can experience two contradictory urges and needs simultaneously. For example, we can feel both love and hate for another person at about the same time.
This module teaches skills to manage your emotions more effectively, by learning how to have more control, though not aiming for complete emotional control.
The skills taught are as follows:
- Understanding and Naming Emotions
- Changing emotional responses
- Reducing the intensity of painful emotions
- Changing situations that cause painful emotions
- Reducing vulnerability to ‘emotional mind’
- Managing really difficult emotions
Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills
These skills help you apply mindfulness in the practical experiences of encounters and relationships with others.
In this module the skills taught are as follows:
Obtaining relationship objectives effectively
i. Asking for what you want
ii. Saying “no” to unwanted requests
iii. Doing the above in a way that maintains self-respect and keeps others liking you
Building relationships and ending destructive ones
Walking the middle path
Balancing acceptance with change in yourself and in your relationships with others.
Distress Tolerance Skills
In this module, we learn how to tolerate and survive crisis situations without making things worse. The following two key skills are taught:
Crisis survival skills
These are techniques for tolerating painful events, urges and emotions when you cannot make things better right away.
Reality Acceptance Skills
These skills teach you how to reduce suffering by helping you accept and enter fully into a life even when it is not the life you want.
The details of this therapy being offered are as follows:
Duration of Therapy: 6 weeks
Duration of each session: 2 hours
When: Mondays 9 – 11 am
Mondays 7 – 9 pm
Saturdays 9 – 11 am
No. in therapy group: 8 – 10 adults
Cost: R2 400
Most medical aids will cover at least 80% of this cost