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Anyone who publishes a therapy workbook in Comic Sans should be dragged into the street, drawn and quartered extra slowly and ironically, perhaps using goats instead of horses, with the remains turned into store brand processed dog food.

“Accept the Crisis” by Baha’i Views / Flitzy Phoebie, CC by-nc-nd

This week’s DBT handouts came from a workbook for adolescents and parents. Apparently group therapy is cooler in Comic Sans. I could hardly read the pages, my eyes were so bruised by the horror of it. Well, that and depression.

I was not doing so well Monday evening, and I don’t think I said a word throughout the whole session. I wasn’t laughing or smiling when others were. I just couldn’t catch on to the social cues and make (fake) the appropriate reactions quickly enough – too cognitively and emotionally numb. Other people had pretty dramatic stuff to share, and I just didn’t have anything to say, so staying quiet seemed the thing to do. The severity of the symptoms and speed of onset for this little depressive spell have been disturbing, to say the least.

Anyway, the content was on “finding the middle path” through dialectics, and also validation. Both seem useful, I think, but I need more time to process it.

The dialectics stuff is trying to work with both acceptance and change. The statement that threw me into a mental tailspin was, “You’re doing the best you can AND you need to do better, try harder, and be more motivated to change.” Argh. How do I know I’m really doing the best I can?

The parts about validation were really more focused on interpersonal skills, though the group leader stressed that self-validation is important too. “Self-validation involves perceiving your own feelings, thoughts, and actions as accurate and acceptable in a particular situation.” Notably, we are to remember that validation doesn’t imply agreement. Good enough in theory but slow to achieve in practice, I’m guessing.

Bringing it all together were “dialectical dilemmas” that were pretty parenting-oriented, since the content is from a workbook for teens and their parents. The only one I could identify with was the continuum between “treating normal behaviors as problems” and “treating problem behaviors as normal.” Although for me, this always entails the problem of figuring out what is normal, a skill in which I have a well-established deficit. The dialectical statement about the continuum is basically recognize what behavior crosses the line and get help for that while at the same time recognizing what behaviors are part of normal experiences. So much easier said than done, I’m afraid.

Next week, our group of 6 will gain 7 new members. I’m feeling a bit freaked about that because we have a pretty mellow, friendly, relatively comfortable group, and that many newcomers seems sure to rock the boat. The group leaders said they always overbook because one or two will drop out after a week or two. But still. And core mindfulness again.

sigh

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