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  • Alicia Paz

DBT Is Hard- Here's What To Do About It

Let me start by saying DBT isn't for everyone. There can be a million reasons why this is true. Even as a fan of DBT, there have been times where I met with a student and we spoke about leaving DBT group. Sometimes there is a plan to return, sometimes it's not a good fit. That's absolutely okay. There are a lot of other treatment options out there. That being said, this is a post for those who want to continue with DBT.

Let's be honest; DBT is hard! I have never met a student who found it easy, or who found it immediately "took." Skill practice is hard and it takes a while to see a difference. Let's talk about why it can be uncomfortable and how to work to overcome the discomfort.

"It's new." DBT is changing core behaviors and beliefs which doesn't come naturally. Chances are you may not have used these skills prior so it's totally new.

"It feels robotic." DBT has a textbook and for in-person group, you often read from a book and follow a specific class format. The point of this is to provide structure because many of those in DBT need it to help achieve stability.

"It's so repetitive and boring." Yes, it is repetitive which can be boring. This may be the number one complaint I hear. Much like the robotic comment, it's done on purpose to really drill home the topic and skill.

"It's just not my thing." Like I mentioned above, it just may not be for you. This doesn't mean you didn't fail or drop out of DBT it means DBT didn't work for you.

I am not here to convince you to continue DBT. If you are interested in continuing or starting DBT though, here are some tips if you find yourself struggling or to prepare yourself..

Keep going; it's a marathon not a sprint. Recovery isn't easy. It takes time to use the skills and have them work. When they do, you might have a "lightbulb moment" and see huge changes so sit through the rough patches to get there.

Grab a notebook and process. DBT has a lot of skills and isn't talk therapy. Most students are in individual therapy as well. Many things come up so I recommend starting with a notebook and journaling as you go. This is a class much like school and it may be a good idea to treat it as such to help you learn.

Build Mastery. This is a DBT skill which is a skill about getting good at (mastering) other DBT skills. Use skills that work for you often, take pride in doing DBT, celebrate when a skill works, and celebrate when any skill is used.

Take a break. Maybe this isn't the right time for you to do DBT. Maybe you need some space, maybe the time doesn't work, the other students aren't your cup of tea or it's just not a good fit for a million reasons right now. Enjoy some space from DBT. You can return at another time. I have had students start, stop, and start again and many found that their second round was great!

Try a new format. As I said above, this might not be the group for you. If you are able, find another DBT group that works better. Here is a map of DBT providers to help your search. If that isn't possible or you want more flexibility in learning DBT, check out my courses which are 100% online and self-paced. Ask as many questions as you want, view the course forever and theres' a 30-day money back guarantee. I also offer a biweekly live DBT group with self-paced video material, guest speakers, and skills coaching as needed.

Whether you continue DBT or not I hope you find some help that is right for you!

Take Care,

Alicia