Sunday, 9 February 2014

My DBT House

This morning I have been preparing a session for my DBT Graduate Group which is due to meet on Tuesday. I found it on a website for counselling for children. I thought it would help our group as we try to set ourselves medium and long term goals. You see, for a group of people for whom identity is an issue which is central to our disorder, even being certain about who we are at any time is a struggle. So, we have been struggling as a group and as individuals to set any definite goals.

When I came across the DBT house, it didn't matter that it had been designed for children. As a former teacher and communicator I understand the effort which goes into engaging children in learning. Why do we inflict static learning on adults so often, powerpoint, anyone? Who said learning couldn't be fun for adults too?

First draw a house. It can be any style, but must have: a floor, a door, a roof, a chimney, 4 floors or levels and above the house a Billboard.

Now on your drawing write or draw the following:
1. On the floor (foundation) list the values you hold dear.
2. Along the walls write anything or anyone that supports you.
3. On the roof name the things or people that protect you.
4. On the chimney list ways that you ‘blow off steam’.
5. On the Billboard list the things you are most proud of.
6. On the door write the things you keep hidden from others.

Now draw the following on the levels of the house:
1. Level One: Behaviours you are trying to control or areas of your life you want to change.
2. Level Two: List or draw the emotions you want to express more, or more effectively.
3. Level Three: List all the things you are happy about or want to feel happy about.
4. List or draw what a life worth living would look like for you

It's a simple idea. One that actually builds on what has already been achieved. Despite what the storms and instability inherent in our experience of BPD tell us, we can only have survived if some basic essentials of identity have remained in place. Once again we are reminded that relying on our emotions and the thoughts driven by them are not reliable foundations on which to build our sense of self.

Instead, as I have worked my way through this exercise I have recognised that I do have some very strongly held values: kindness, compassion, a belief in justice. I have also learned that rather than being abandoned by every friend I have ever made, I have maintained some key relationships that have survived the ups and downs of my life. I am essentially likeable - that is what a fact based assessment of my relationships tells me. My feelings no longer drive my life, I am free to set myself small goals to help me achieve a more balanced way of living. More than anything, this exercise encourages me to see my recovery as a work in progress, one which is positively building a 'life worth living'.