This week there were only 5 of us at DBT group, and it looks like the group composition has settled down to about 8 people total. We wrapped up the core mindfulness unit and started on distress tolerance. In discussing what we did last week that was one-mindful, I mentioned weeding the garden, because if you’re trying to really get the roots out and thoroughly eliminate the weeds, you have to pay attention to what you’re doing. Good enough.
The whole idea of distress tolerance is acceptance. Sometimes we’re in distressing situations that we can’t immediately change, and having coping skills for those instances focuses on dealing with distress without doing things that make the situation worse.
We started off with a discussion of what constitutes a crisis, since that is what the distress tolerance skills are supposed to address. In this context, anything that makes you distressed is a crisis, not just an emergency like the typical vernacular use of the word. So basically anything that makes me freak out would be considered a crisis for which I could use DBT skills.
The first skills that we discussed are represented by the acronym “accepts.” There are a lot of stupid acronyms in DBT. I find such acronyms rather contrived and therefore irritating. Anyway, the skill is distracting yourself from a situation, and the letters in “accepts” are all representative of different types of things you can do to distract yourself. I think we all do this at times, but learning to do it strategically is the main point of DBT. The main ones we talked about were activities and contributions before we basically ran out of time to discuss the other few distracting techniques in any detail.
My homework this week is to check daily whether I used the “accepts” strategies and the level of distress before and after using the strategies. Although I’m generally good at tracking stuff, I think this may be a little challenging. I don’t do these things consciously and I’m not in a crisis mode at the moment, so there aren’t necessarily natural opportunities to exercise the skills.