Well, would you look at that?
I actually went through the entire 10 weeks, despite saying that this thing was probably not for me.
Sadly, I lost the last three weeks of in-person group therapy, due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines.
I was hoping that they would postpone the program and I’d be able to make up the last three weeks at a later date.
Unfortunately, they opted for one-on-one phone sessions, which were valuable, but were certainly not the same.
I was able to get all the material emailed to me.
And here we are.
I gave it a chance and I ended up loving itI waited a long time for therapy.
I’ve talked about how long it took me to get seen by a psychiatrist and finally get diagnosed, and how much longer it took to get into any kind of therapy beyond medication management.
I knew there were a lot of people waiting to get into the program so, I knew that in that sense, the program was valuable.
I couldn’t afford a private psychologist to help me cope with my new diagnosis so, I decided I would at least give orientation a chance.
I mentioned in Instagram stories that I felt orientation didn’t do the program justice.
It was a lot of dry information about what therapies are used in the program: Emotional regulation and distress tolerance, mindfulness, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and effective interpersonal relationships, which all fell under the umbrella of Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT).
I felt like they were giving me definitions to tools I already knew existed.
Challenging your very identity
The one thing that really bugged me about the program, ended up being the thing that made the program so valuable: From the get-go, I felt like the program challenged my way of thinking – my programming, so-to-speak – and therefore, it challenged my very identity.
In many ways, it did that.
But in the end, it was the ability to look at a situation with wise mind, instead of emotional mind – to discern between fact and feeling – that made the skills we were taught so much more effective.
This taught me the skill of open-mindedness and challenged something that I didn’t even know I was doing: Narrow-minded thinking.
As promised, I decided I would share some of the skills I learned with all of you.
I am not a therapist
One of the rules that were made clear to us from the get-go in therapy was that, we were there for our own benefit, and not others (we had a lot of sessions discussing healthy boundaries, which actually played a part in why I didn’t blog a lot during therapy).
Even though our group had amazing chemistry, and we were able to share the most vulnerable things about ourselves, we were encouraged not to form relationships with each other outside of therapy.
For one, it was a privacy issue.
If I saw a fellow patient out and about in real life, I wouldn’t just run up to them and say, “Hey, remember me? From mental health therapy?” Maybe the people they’re with aren’t aware they were or are in therapy. That’s one risk we nip in the bud by refraining from having relationships outside of group.
Secondly, when people go through similar situations, and can relate so well to each other, they can become each others’ therapists.
My YouTube therapists
Before I got into IOP, I found a lot of life coaches and psychiatrists on YouTube, whose materials I used as a form of therapy.
So much of what they shared resonated with me so, when I was in crisis, I would turn to their videos. They were extremely valuable.
But it wasn’t until I went to therapy that was tailored specifically to me, that I realized how important it was to get professional help.
The decision to seek or accept professional help, is obviously personal.
But I do recommend it.
These are valuable skills I’m sharing with you guys but at the end of the day, I am not a therapist, and could never advise each and every one of you, because everyone’s situations are different.
Lastly, without professional help, you could start over-identifying with your diagnoses and symptoms, which were forms of distorted thinking I adopted, that I had to challenge, when I started using CBT skills.
One module a week
This journey is two-fold.
There are 10 weeks worth of material, and four modules (see above).
I would like to go through each handout myself, as a form of personal therapy (we call this home practise or homework).
Once I complete that material, I will write about it.
My intention is to complete and write about, one activity per week.
Four modules, at 10 handouts per module, should last about 40 weeks. That’s almost a full year’s worth of material.
I hope you join me on this journey of growth and I genuinely hope the material resonates with you.
Hope you’re all well.