I’ve made it to the halfway point of my Dialectical Behaviour Therapy program through the Centre for Psychotherapy in town. Six months, three modules (distress tolerance, emotional regulation and interpersonal effectiveness) plus the ongoing mindfulness skills, across one weekly individual therapy session and one 2.5 skills group. Via Telehealth. With homework. I am so trepedacious about going to face to face from next week, but where have I gotten with it so far?
Well, I’ve only missed one individual session in all that time! There’s been weeks without appointments due to Christmas and Easter, or my psychologist’s leave, but I’ve only cancelled one, and I had covid and was brain-foggy as I think it was a great call. I’ve been to all of the group sessions scheduled too, a couple while I had covid I wasn’t 100% but I still sat in, gave it a go, and did my homework. Advantage of telehealth is the ability to attend even when under the weather, or infectious. That won’t really be an option for the groups at least from here on in. At least not immediately, they do have teleconferencing facilities which the lead therapist mentioned yesterday, but they’re not currently working, and would be an option if you’ve covid, I’m told, but at this stage it might be best to give it a miss?
I’m not sure what their rules are going to be around isolating if you’ve covid or a household contact, now that the regulations are rapidly disappearing? When I had covid I couldn’t go into the Mater for my Antabuse for 14 days but I also don’t know what the rules are there now, for outpatients vs inpatients and the like.
SO. The last module was called “Interpersonal Effectiveness” aka social skills :p A lot of the manual does read like social skills training, making sure you’re polite, not too demanding, use eye contact, and “easy manner” all the things that are “expected” of you, Because they’re expected, they’re effective when interacting with the people.
I have to admit a sense of skepticism about what parts of this I should spend too much energy on. Fortunately for me it seems all my years of masking an fawning have left me over-doing a lot of the “good” skills, if to my own detriment. And the therapists have been encouraging me to stand up for myself more, hold my ground, and “no sorries”, because they are SO automatic and just make me so meek and submissive.
I have to admit, I spent too much energy last session observing the therapists’ manners, their facial expressions, their ways of explaining things. Wondering if that’s what I should aspire to be like, but also feeling like some of it was unnecessary. You know what people use their encouraging smiles? and it gets too much?
First group in person on Thursday. I hope my replacement Opal card comes in time. I lost it on the way home from my last individual session. I’d not taken my wallet, because it’s big and everything is on my phone, except for my opal card, and I thought the card would be safe in my DBT folder, but it slipped out between tapping on at Newcastle interchange and trying to tap off at Fassifern. it’s a concession card, so it has to be ordered, there’s no buying individual, single trip tickets on concession any more. Yup, that makes it difficult for a lot of people.
But I’ve been social lately. Went to the local candidate’s event and chatted with new and prospective members, educated people around Greens’ policies and how preferential voting works. Yeah, I collapsed in a heap the next day, but I use my social spoons and social skills as needed. I even have a phone call booked to talk about going new places and meet even more new people next month, and I’m going to Sydney on Saturday for a customer panel I’m doing with Ausgrid. I can be around people, and turn on the charm as necessary, I just prefer not to unless I think it’s worth it.