By Jude Vereyken, LMSW, CAADC
Many years ago I attended a training to learn about (what was then a new form of therapy) called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy or DBT as it is commonly referred to. In my estimation the therapy program teaches some incredibly wonderful life skills that can be useful for us all.
DBT was initially created to help people who struggle with a personality disorder that impacted their ability to regulate emotions resulting in suicidal behaviors and problems maintaining relationships. I became interested in learning more about DBT because a psychiatrist where I worked at that time was excited about it and shared his excitement with us.
Through my initial introduction to DBT, I started my own personal journey with meditation practice, which is one of the life skills DBT teaches. I began reading books about Eastern teachings and see many parallels to Christianity in what I’ve learned. God’s gifts come in all kinds of packages.
Since that first training opportunity, I’ve attended several more, each time learning more and applying additional DBT skills into my own life. You see, in order to “do” DBT, a therapist is required to practice the skills themselves! A marvelous aspect of the therapy! My interest in DBT has profited me greatly and very personally.
I’ve come to realize that one’s journey in life involves practice, practice, practice—not about perfection but practicing, setting an intentional focus or behavior goal and learning to use it. Reality is that no matter how much we demand perfection of ourselves, we are all too very human to ever be able to achieve such an impossible goal. But we can practice—and, that matters!
This spring I am starting a new group in our Holland clinic called “Practice Matters!” It is an opportunity to learn or enhance a multitude of life coping tools, practice them, be held accountable for your practice by setting intentions or weekly goals, and have the support of a group of peers.
I’ve pulled together a number of tool resources, not only from DBT, but other therapies and books with the intention of providing group members with an expanded coping skill tool box. I like to think of us all running around in life with an imaginary tool box along side of us—the bigger the box meaning the more resources at our disposal, the better chance we have to find the right one when we need it. Sometimes we reach for a hammer but really need to find a screw driver instead! Sometimes the tool we grab is rusty and we have to clean it off before we can put it to use too. ”Practice Matters!” I am hoping will provide just those opportunities.
What life coping skill do you need to practice, practice, practice in order to better use?
Jude Vereyken, LMSW, CAADC is a Fully Licensed Master of Social Work with over 22 years of clinical social work practice in the Holland community. She has been at the Pine Rest Holland Clinic since 2003.