This week, I will start by telling you something most therapists would prefer I didn’t say. The truth is there isn’t a whole lot of difference between the self-help you are doing in these weekly pages and what a therapist might say in a face-to-face meeting. Sure, it will be a little more personalised and you might soak the information in a little better if you are being personally told how to do the things. But most therapists do have a set path when it comes to DBT teachings. It is the way we have been taught ourselves and it is the way DBT has been done for almost 50 years. So why do so many people struggle to benefit from self-help pages?
Despite their popularity online and in published formats, there is always a lot of criticism on self-help guides in any form. Some give useless or even harmful advice and many therapists will tell you that they often make the patient worse because reading pages like these ones will often make people not seek professional help even when their symptoms are getting worse. At the end of the day, people who benefit from these self-help pages are only getting better because they are paying attention to things about themselves that they didn’t pay attention to before! If you break it down to its core DBT is little more than common sense and basic mindfulness practices!
So…why am I telling you this? Because to feel better and indeed get better you will need to understand the help that is out there and what it really is. Therapy of any kind isn’t witchcraft, it is about reprogramming the mind and giving you more control over your emotions and thoughts. Self-help pages like these help thousands of people each and every day, many with complex personality disorders like BPD. OK, so far more people benefit from one-on-one therapy than they do these guides, but as I have already said, the help they will give you isn’t that much different to these pages. Be it a book, an audiobook, zoom meetings, one-on-one meetings and even website guides, they are all the same DBT teachings (unless of course they are based on a different form of therapy).
The only difference in all of these ways to cure yourself is your own perception of them and how well you interact with them and engage with them. If you are not reading these pages, only scanning them and not interacting with the homework there is no point in reading them! There is no point going to a therapist if all you are going to do is clam up and not do the homework tasks they set for you. It is up to YOU to make any form of therapeutic help work and any therapist who tells you otherwise is lying. Having said that, just because pages like this are not helping you shouldn’t mean you give up on talk-based therapy altogether. Most people do prefer one on one therapy as they can talk about their own issues and get targeted help and advice for them.
Many people don’t want to read these self-help pages as some of them do go on quite long, but there are audiobooks, videos and other things you can try. Self-help therapy isn’t magic and it isn’t your only free option. But do understand the information all those other methods are trying to teach you (free or paid for) is the same core elements you will find here. So do take that on board if you feel these pages are not working for you and ALWAYS seek further professional help if you feel your symptoms are getting worse.