Sunday, December 13, 2009

"How I Hate DBT" the past, in the future, and in my "PRESENT MOMENT"

So Marsha can put that in her barrette, tie it up in her scarf, or hide it under her habit...I stumbled upon some DBT 'crap' this morning...SURPRISE! 

Recently, I received an email from someone who found my blog by googling "how I hate DBT" and it still saddens and angers me that the great and powerful MHPs still think DBT is the best mode of treatment for trauma survivors.  And I have to believe that my anger and need to express my feelings about dbt is more than just for selfish reasons ~  more than just a spoke in my menstral cycle. 

Yeah, I am more than a statistic...and so is this young woman who emailed me.  As I read the word of this woman who emailed me about her hatred of DBT, and how she is still attending the classes even though she finds the classes to be angering and triggering for her, I was reminded of my own feelings and how I felt when it was "strongly" suggested that I go to dbt ~ I say strongly suggested, but really it felt forced to me.  Forced to go by someone I trusted more than I had trusted anyone else in my life to have my 'best interests' in mind. 

When I asked the young lady why she continued to go despite the fact she did not find the classes helpful, she said, "I argue with my therapist about it all of the time. I don't know why I still go...I think to humor my therapist and because I have a hard time saying no to her. Must be under her spell."  

I resonate with what she was saying because I felt the same way!  And really, in the long run, it actually made me resentful of my therapist because I felt like she forced me to go and she knew saying 'no' is something I struggle with.  I did not have a right to say no growing up ~ she knew that ~and I feel like she took advantage of that by making me go to the classes which really just set me back 2 years in therapy with respect to 'trust' and 'safety'.  I feel like I should get 1/2 my GD money back!  I left every single class more pissed off and suicidal than when I arrived.  

And the MHPs know this, too.  Once, after dbt class, I reached out to my therapist to tell her how upset I was and she responded with, "Of course you are going to feel irritable after DBT class as this class runs counter to what your emotional mind wants which is to be heard, understood and comforted, vs being told to modulate, distract, "pretend" to feel good, etc."  So really she KNEW I wanted to be heard and understood, and yet she wanted me to "distract" and "pretend" ~ skills I learned SO well as a child, skills that were just reinforced during dbt classes that now that's all can do, IRL! AGAIN!  It's a beautiful thing!  "Where are you today, Grace?"  In Grace robotic voice, "I am  fine, DT.  I am distracting myself by doing math problems inside my head so I tell you nothing because I no longer trust you and am afraid of you...."  DBTs star pupil! 

I am more than just a half smile ~ more than just a number on a diary card!  Just like this person stated: I am More than a Statistic!

I have been allowed an understanding that the Marsha drinking kool-aid compound residents have chosen to ignore.  So many people are basically being forced to go to DBT even though they don't find it helpful, and in fact, are bitter and resentful for being sent.  If you went to dbt and found it helpful ~ great!  But I'm speaking for those of us who found it more harmful and traumatic and now feel even more untrusting and 'hushed'...why didn't you listen to us when we told you "NO"?  Why should we trust that you will listen to us now?  I want to live in a world where survivors get to have a say in their *treatment* ~ a world where there is actually HELP and not just words of "this is your last hope".... a world where I am free of dbt!  A world where the MHPs will listen to more than just the nun...

OH, and this is what I think about "no self-harm/sui contracts":  SI/SUI Contracts... I don't need an "agreement" with an MHP to "stay safe" ~ I don't give a shit if it makes YOU feel better, or not. 


  1. I have a hard time saying no too. So even though I really disliked doing mindfulness with my psychologist, I just went along with it because it's what she wanted to do with me. At least it didn't trigger me or make things worse, like DBT did for you, but it wasn't helpful at all and was just a pointless waste of time and money. If a certain technique doesn't work for a patient, the mental health practitioner should listen and look for an alternative.

    I don't understand what's so bad about being heard, understood and comforted...isn't that what all of us need sometimes?

  2. Cassie, sadly, I have wasted A LOT of time and money on *therapy* that has not been helpful...I think I'm done with that. My therapist used to be the 'comforting' type ~ then she drank the DBT kool-aid. I'm no longer as dependent on her as I used to be...and I don't think I'm afraid to say what does not work for me now....and if she wants to do DBT - she can do it with someone else - I ain't sailing away on that ship....

    Comforted? Yes, that would be nice ~ something I've never known in 38 years ~ then had a 'taste' of with my current therapist, until I disclosed my SI/SIB~ and the Marsha pod-person that I tend to keep my SUI thoughts to myself she doesn't preach DBT ~ which is essentially a catch 22 ~ be honest and hear aobut DBT (which makes me more SUI) or play the *sin of omission* game....hum...which is better.... I surely don't know...

  3. My therapist introduced me to DBT as well. I actually looked it up myself since it is so highly regarded and asked him about it. I found it to be invalidating in some ways.

    I blamed myself for not bonding with it. My T really put a lot of work into introducing me to it but he never pushed me.

    How were you forced into DBT? Did your insurance require it or did your T make it mandatory?

  4. She didn't "force" me to do it ~ but strongly suggested I go AND only spoke DBT language and kept pushing it until I agreed. Insurance didn't require it, nor did they pay for it! I paid it all ~ self pay ~ well, until I dropped out of the classes because I found them to be a waste of time and terribly invalidating. I'm still trying to 'clean up the mess' DBT left behind. Part of me can understand why the therapist wanted me to go (SUI and SI Bx) but it really just f'd me up more... No NOT blame yourself ~ I found it to be invadidating and retraumatizing). The therapist has now assured me that as long as I agree to "keep myself safe" she won't mention it again....

  5. I'm glad she isn't pushing it anymore. I really just needed the sessions with my T. Not the business-like DBT stuff that doesn't help me deal with the here and now.

    The first night of DBT, I dissociated and ended up on the other side of town. It was horrible. That did it, he no longer pushed it.

    I'm sorry grace that you are having a tough time. I'm there as well. Imagine me giving you a safe hug as one safe place for you.

    I read your post from today but don't see a link to comment. So this is a dual post :)

  6. Psych Client ~ thank you...I totally get the the dissociation from DBT. I actually had a cutting relapse in the bathroom 5 minutes before DBT class started!!!

    Thank you for reading & caring...I closed the comment link for the last post because I was afraid someone would leave a shitty comment that I would not be able to read.

    Thank you for your kindness...I'm just having a horrible time right now *dealing* with the flashbacks and overwhelming body *stuff* that is bleeding into now...and "this" is the only place I get to "act out" (if I do it in front of an MHP I'll get sent back to least that's my fear.

    Really ~ I hope you find some peace soon, as well. I wish it weren't this hard, I really do.

  7. I'm glad you are feeling a bit better. It is so hard and sometimes I don't think our therapists realize that...not to the degree we do.

    I'll check on you later today.

  8. Dear Anon - that's because DBT is invalidating and retraumatizing...I"m not surprised that you hate it!
    Check out my new place...surrounded by nun-haters and a validating environment!

  9. I also right now due to some mental health issues am going through DBT. It is not helpful in the slightest and im locked in a system where I basically feel that I dont have alot of choices. So I go along with it, but I am not confinding any emotion, feeling or anything I have been through with any of these therapists because they are simply not worth the time or effort

  10. These posts are total freakin' crap and all you people are doing is making excuses to NOT do the hard work, and blaming other people and treatment for your behavior. So like when my drug counselor or PO pisses me off and I use, it's ther fault. CRAP. It's all me. Just like your behavior is YOUR OWN.

    BTW, can one of you freakin' people explain exactly the way in which DBT traumatized you, invalidated you, or how one DBT class could possibly make someone dissociate? DBT isn't the everything, but all I see her are people who want to keep using the fucked up skills that have gotten them where they are.

    btw, NOT MH just someone who knows that it's not all about blaming other people/treatment. Real recovery is about looking at YOURSELF and your behavior. You get out of anything what you put into it.

  11. Well, "anonomous" I guess I'll just say the fact that I've never had a DRUG counselor or a “probation officer” or an arrest record, stand on its own *merit* and I hope you’re not pissed off enough by the post to *use*...course you could try your "skills" to deal with your anger - or call your "counselor" for coaching…there is that. Trust me, “us people” get by just fine w/o the “untherapy”. I’m guessing you were “court ordered” to attend? (just a hunch) I could be wrong.

  12. I am aware that this post is old, but I just want to say THANK YOU. I'm close to crying right now because I am so relieved to hear that there are others out there for whom DBT just isn't the right treatment.
    I did 12 weeks of inpatient DBT, and I tried so hard to do the work and take something from it, but I just had one invalidating experience after another. Everybody else there was absolutely ecstatic about DBT, and when I voiced my doubts I was either told that I wasn't ready for change or accused of being difficult. I don't think I need to mention that I left the hospital in a worse state than I was in upon arrival...
    I really think DBT can help people, but it's not THE cure for everyone. I wish people - specifically mental health professionals - would see and respect that, and not blame the patient when DBT is not working for them.

    Again, thank you for writing this. I wish you all the best!

  13. Getting stronger, of course they told you you were being "difficult" because you had a brain and an opinion and you're not a "follower" or willing to buy into a so called treatment that didn't work for you. I'm so sorry that you had to endure 12 weeks of frustration and invalidation. Gee how "healing" and "therapeutic" of the so-called "helping profession". No" you're def no alone in your dbt experience.

  14. I was forced to attend DBT, too. The thing was, if I didn't go, "the clinic team" decided to move me to seeing a therapist once per month for 15 minutes, and to move me out of their clinic altogether. My therapist told me that DBT is a requirement and that I have a choice to either go, or not go, and it was up to me. But, by choosing not to go, they are going to boot me out of any kind of therapy at all, and that is all tied into seeing the psych. doctor for medications. So, I will end up losing my psych. doctor, too, because I don't like DBT.

    Why do I not like DBT? It actually makes me feel worse! It isn't working for me, and the distraction/pretend aspect of DBT is a fricking joke! DBT is nothing but "wholesale therapy" that is designed to teach people how to pretend and hide what and how they feel, and how they think, too. You don't dare share how you are thinking because they will try to lay on more distraction and pretending "skills." -- Something is seriously wrong with DBT that "professionals" are not addressing. I think it has to do with money. Each time someone attends DBT class, the clinic gets nearly $600. for each person for the two or three hour class. That money comes from Medicare and Medicaid.

    DBT is not all that great. And many people who do attend DBT classes are pretending that they are doing better when they are really lying and pretending out of fear that they will become the focus due to failure of the class. Well, the class sucks! It doesn't work for many people! And those who oppose it are penalized by the "professionals" who are pushing the class. I'm one of them who is being penalized in the face of being forced to attend the stupid classes. -- I refuse. I am now heading out on my own to find a private psychiatrist and a private therapist. I have no choice. -- So be it, then.

  15. It sounds like none of your therapists were practicing DBT in the true spirit in which it's supposed to be offered. It's based on the principal that everyone is doing the very best he or she possibly can & that he or she wants to get better. It's not about blame. In fact, one of its fundamentals is that if treatment isn't working, the therapist is at fault. I'm sorry you had such a horrible experience.

  16. I believe the only reason dbt helped me was that I had already had many years of empathetic - real listening from a caring therapist. If I hadn't had that first then I believe dbt would be the same kind of nightmare experience for me, too.

  17. I didn't feel that great after a year or more of DBT group sessions. I felt more suicidal and depressed than before. I found the diary cards to be silly when my distress at the depression was so bad, these little things barely made a dent. Sometimes they did, but then the depressive angst and fear would be right back minutes later and I got frustrated with the whole process. Once day I spent most of the day practicing distracting techniques and others and I finally just let myself cry and felt much better. What I learned that is better for me is to stay away from triggering people and situations who need more help than I do and always did on some level. I just got stuck with the sensitivity and letting others' shit get to me over time. I found mindfulness only useful along with a yoga and meditation practice. Acceptance seemed to stop at acknowledging and then hurrying up to apply a skill to water the thing down. I now try and be with whatever feeling I have for as long as I need rather than try and hurry up and buy time by distracting from it in basically silly ways. I see DBT as potentially harmful in its approach because it doesn't focus enough on acceptance and more on pithy remedies. I don't think the overall approach needs to be that difficult, though I think the interpersonal effectiveness skills was the best module.

  18. One of my other issues with DBT is that it did not work for my severe mood swings. I believe it is mostly for borderlines (which I do have some overlap there at times,) who need to calm down emotional reactions. In the midst of a severe winter depression, it did nothing for me and I felt worse due to it was doing nothing. In fact, I kept telling the therapist that I think it is my mood swings getting in the way of its effectiveness.

  19. I go to a DBT group but I think that you have to be a certain type of person for it to work. My therapist thinks I have a need to control everything so the DBT might give me a way to "control" my feelings/emotions. It won't work if you can't work within the group for what ever reason. It won't work if you have trust issues and definately not if you feel invalidated. My last group was validating because people were able to come out and say what was happening to them and how they tried to cope effectively or ineffectively. I have borderline and I'm on depends on the stage you are at in your mental health journey and also the stage you are at in your life....if I had 4 screaming children around me there is no way I could think about the DBT skills or practise them. an each skill doesn't work for everyone. like that whole muscle relaxation and deep breathing is rubbish to me but the imagery of a beach works for me. all I can say is KEEP FIGHTING AND NEVER GIVE UP until you find something or someone that works for you. You know yourself best and if DBT is not working or making you worse stand up to those professionals!

  20. What other treatments are out there? I **hate** DBT. I've completed phase one, but because I was "willful," I get the privilege of repeating. I am now 1/2 way through phase one again.

    My individual therapist doesn't want me to use the phone consult because she says I'm not truly in crisis. But when I ask about developing a "life worth living," she says other therapy elements are more important.

    Ready to make changes. Ideas?

    1. CBT, NLP, there are loads.. here's a link to the Wikipedia link on Psychotherapy and the different approaches In addition to this there are the alternative therapies like aromatherapy, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, colour and art therapy. To be honest I use a range and a combination of different therapies. Don't put your therapist in control. they are not in your shoes. They are an outsider looking in. I had to push my psychotherapist and my general practitioner to send me to DBT/CBT and a psychiatrist.

  21. welll, here's my experience with dbt: I am 42 yrs old and have gone to therapy since I was literally 6 years old. I have tried every single therapy in the book. Though I have through time become better at dealing with chronic ptsd and repeated bouts of severe ptsd due to repeatedly making repeatedly poor choices.

    I recently was introduced to DBT after I had a breakdown (finally) and I find it incredibly hard to learn. But the distraction techniques are NOT to be used constantly to avoid dealing with pain though, as commenters here are interpreting it. It's meant to avoid constant emotional reiteration of the same stuff- the obsessive stuff that in fact retriggers and retriggers etc. I personally cannot do any trauma therapy until I can handle it. and since I totally break down at the thoughts of what recently happened to me, made worse by my 35 year history of chronic ptsd that has established patterns of avoidance, etc, its a mess when I am exposed. (so my life has been one of avoiding more and more things that trigger me, and screwing up my relationships because I dont respond well to being triggered by individuals).

    The distraction techniques are to quell the repetition, and the self soothe techniques used in conjunction are meant to introduce kindness to self, and caretaking of our selves when we are crying, in a state of terror, etc. I don't know how to take care of myself when I am crying and upset, and my thought processes make it worse. cutting for example, makes it worse overall. so for example, when I am hysterical I hold a piece of ice- if really hysterical I don't even feel the ice, but I hold the ice, which roots me to the physical so I don't dissociate, and then I hold something really soft, or my dog, and keep telling myself I will be ok. it's not distraction- it's management, and kindness. I love my dog a lot more than I love myself, so she makes me feel better. I still cry, but I calm down.

    So I have appreciated learning how to distract myself when I am so upset I am not functioning in my daily life, and then when I need to process my emotions, to self soothe, to keep me from SH. Kindness to self is part of the DBT recipe, and I've never done that before. The dear mans I still can't get down, and the radical acceptance sends me into paroxysms of hysteria because I can't. I can't be with the reality of certain issues or I wouldn't be there. But the trauma counseling I need can't begin until I actually can handle talking about the trauma without breaking down, and to move through the trauma, I really do have to accept it happened, and the outcomes of what happened are real and right now. I have to open my eyes without falling apart.

    So mindfulness is helping me with that. But yeah, I can't deal with this stuff really in class because I just cry. But I sit there with it, I use faith to help me sit with my discomfort because I know deeply now that I don't have the tools myself, and I have faith that facing my trauma is the only way to get through it. I have to accept it. Nothing has worked despite years of therapy, and if this works, if I really try and participate and it works, then I'd be grateful. I might get a life one day that isn't totally miserable. If it doesn't work, f'it, it will be just like everything else in my life and I won't change. This is why I don't hate it and I keep trying. I will do *anything* to change my life now. desperation is a real motivator...

  22. I also hate DBT! I have BPD/ DID, and I did a few years of Schema therapy on and off, and absolutely loved it. It was validating, gave me names to describe the abuse and it taught me how the abuse turned into BPD. Just being validated alone, helped me recover a lot. I stopped self-harming because I truly believed I didn't deserve it any more. I became a lot more healthy and stable, and felt very empowered now that I understood my disorder and abuse.

    I wasn't treated like 'a Borderline'. I was treated like a human being with an abandonment and abuse schema. Just taking that label away and viewing myself as a human being and not a label was amazing.

    I then went to a therapy group that used DBT from the Marsha Linehan book, and wow, what a mistake. So traumatizing and stressful.

    It triggered memories that I wasn't able to deal with, and offered no talking therapy to help me cope. Schema therapy was much more gentle.

    I even relapsed back into self-harming and my dissociation went through the roof. It was invalidating and I felt I was being pushed back into having the BPD label and I felt dehumnaised again. The distraction techniques worsened my dissociation

    I've seen ML write some really messed up things about the cause off BPD. That we are 'born sensetive' and it's how we react to things. I have yet to meet a person with BPD who hasn't suffered severe abuse, sexual, emotional or physical, or abandonment. I am sick of reading about biology.

    Abuse, abandonment or any form of childhood trauma will cause chemical changes in the brain. There have been loads of studies in it. The brain gets caught in 'fight or flight' response and damages the amygdala and then turns into BPD behaviour. This is the area that control emotions, anxiety, mood. Narcissists are just as 'sensitive' as BPDs, just that we all display it differently.

    While Schema therapy taught me the tools to help myself and it was a very loving and gentle process, DBT made me into an unfeeling robot.

    The self-soothing advice was ridiculous. How can you expect someone who has self-harmed since childhood to start lighting candles? You have to teach someone to care for themselves, explore where that self-loathing comes from. It's a slow process.

    I got to the point where I was constantly monitoring myself and being critical of my responses. It was very boring and my life felt mechanical.

    And don't get me started on her whole 'finding God' bullshit. As an atheist who also struggled with religious delusions as part of my DID, I was very triggered by that aspect of it.

    Also the part about empathizing with you abuser and thinking what their life has been like. WTF!

    Luckily as I'd had Schema therapy I was able to rebuild myself, but it was hard. I can't imagine what it must be like for people who go through it first.

    You can learn Mindfulness on your own, go to a class or read about it. And combine it with Schema therapy.

    Read: Reinventing your Life by Jeffrey Young and Change for the Better by Elizabeth McCormick.

  23. We are in DBT with my daughter who had 4 suicide attempts this year. I think it is helpful but not life changing. It takes common sense things that most of us to every day and tries to make it accessible when you are in a stressful situation - to get you through and keep you safe until you can cope with it. So yes, you may already know how to "pretend" to feel good or as they call it "opposite action." The key is recognizing you are lying to yourself and using that skill to get through that tough moment and maybe not make the final cut. THEN you get your coach, trusted friend, etc. and work through the situation in detail. DBT is just there to help you get through the rough spots and give you the time you need to seek help. As a family we laugh at the acronyms and we do sit around a discuss how applicable the class was. But we go in with an open mind and we take away what we can use. The rest of it we let go. Life is like that - a lot of time is wasted for the few moments of meaning. I guess we all need to look for more of those moments of meaning. PS - to Leopardprints: My daughter is BPD. Her father is BPD. There is no history of any trauma - 6 therapists have looked for trauma because typically there is trauma. The thing is, without the trauma, you would probably still be BPD. It just took the trauma for you to not be able to cope. Studies show that most BPD folks improve with age - you through experience - get better at dealing with your illness. My daughter over empathizes with the world. She will break down into a depressive episode because of the refugee situation in Syria. Her twin brother is coping better but I believe he is BPD as well. He went off for 3 days on how he felt guilty for having too many possessions when the rest of the world is starving. I have had many comments such as yours - some how my child has had abuse. It makes me feel threatened as a parent because I know my husband and I have tried to create a free thinking, loving home. I wouldn't even put them in a play pen because I thought it would cage their minds subconsciously. The worst thing I have done as a parent is move to the suburbs for the educational opportunities. So DBT - while not perfect at least takes into account that some people are just excessively sensitive.

    1. So we should be more like you and not care about anyone but ourselves? No wonder your kids are bpd. If you were a good mother, youd admire their compassion and encourage them to donate/volunteer in a cause rather than be depressed about it.

  24. Grace person sounds really angry and stuck. I hope you find some kind of therapy that will help you! If anyone ever "FORCED" you or anyone here to do any therapy that sounds like a major 1st problem here period ... I chose my therapies and rehabs all along the way even in my most fucked up states. So? The blog falls apart for me right after that and so do all the comments in the thread for of those who agree with you and say they were "forced".

    Anyway, I was introduced to DBT and then left it and am now choosing to go back to it. Start again this week. Its just communication and distress tolerance or calming skills basically.

    I hope you find something to help you Grace. Let go girl. This therapy isn't for everyone. If it didn't work for you, accept it, move on and find one that will! ;)

  25. DBT is major suckage. I have been in treatment for 6 months for binge eating disorder and gotten NO results. The therapist is a cold-hearted ice queen and treats me like a bunch of numbers on a piece of paper. DBT drained what little self esteem I had left. It is very rigid and doesn't seem to take into account that each person has their own unique, individual circumstances. I am angry. Guess what, "you can't be dialectical and angry at the same time". Pffffft. DBT is the absolute poster child for this treatment center, but I know they have other forms of therapy.

  26. I don't know how your DBT was structured. In the one I attend I have learned a lot and have been better able to cope because of it. I have not thought of it as telling me to pretend I'm fine. It has actually taught me to recognize when I'm not, give me structure to comunicating my feelings or thoughts, and brainstormed things I can do when really upset. I rarely hear the god talk and if so it is from other members, not the group leaders. I think that therapist should check on what segment the group is on. Interpersonal effectiveness is what I consider the best to start on. Emotion regulation is one that is difficult to take in, or at least it was for me. Thinking about the emotions and digging in did bring up some thoughts that I would rather avoid. If that were my first section them I'm sure I would have dropped dbt. Emotion regulation was one of the sections that did help me to best understand why I'm upset. I hope that everyone reading this has found something that has worked for them. For those looking into dbt, I think it's important to ask what you would be starting with. The most helpful section for myself would not have been the best one for me to start with.

  27. Dbt makes me want to punch a f$$k$$n hole in the wall, !!! I hate it with an all encompassing rage, now I know why so many people quit!!!!! only the hospital is benefiting for all the money they make off of me!!

  28. I f***k&$$in hate dbt, mind control, brainwashing money making scam, a complete waste of insurance money and copays, I've done more than half a year, I feel so much WORSE than when I started, the diary cards, what a waste of my time!! This program is an absolute crock of bull as far as I'm concerned, GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!! Also, I'm an atheist and the BUDDHA, SPIRITUAL part of dbt makes me want to punch a hole in the wall!!!!!