Tag Archives: alternatives

The fill-in therapist is nice. 

Talking to Dr C’s fill-in today was helpful. I brought up my continued issue with taking responsibility for things (specifically my student loans). She gave me some tools to help ease the automatic tapes that scream at me every time I think about my inability to repay the loans… I’m not sure her suggestions helped as much as her repeating a new grounding mantra a few times (something about being an adult, away from my past, and not wanting to allow myself to continue the abuse)… her approach is different from Dr C’s a bit, but it’s helpful in the moment. Dr C is good for getting at the root of all this stuff and dealing with the past. Fill-in therapist’s approach is more cbt/reality and good for handling things in the moment (while also still accepting that I’ve lived with the abusive tapes since I was little, so it makes sense that they would have been adopted as my own)…

She’s a good fill-in therapist. I’m glad Dr C ended up finding her (she was the third choice, as choices 1 and 2 didn’t work out). I’m not sure I could work with her as a primary therapist (cbt/dbt tends to trigger failure tapes), but it was really helpful today. 

I’m still shaking from having called the student loan people, and kinda dissociated, but the tapes it usually triggers are much quieter. 

Only 2 more weeks and Dr C is back. Well, she’ll be back in the county in just under 2 weeks, and we’ll have group that week that she returns, but individual doesn’t start up again till the following week. 

I need to get in gear now and make some sample journal pages for the two things I want to demonstrate in tonight’s workshop. I think only 2 people are coming, but I still need demo pieces. 

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Grounding objects

A long time ago, I realized that certain objects helped me ground or de-stress.  As long as I can remember, I have always had a squishy toy, a small bean bag, a beanie baby (they are good for something other than collecting dust!!), a lavender eye pillow (the sound of the insides swooshing as I rotate it around my hands is incredibly calming, as is the lavender scent), spinning rings, things to meticulously shred, Tangle toys, objects of various different textures (I tend to prefer smooth & soft, but sometimes I go for rougher things), things to peel, etc.  Throughout college, I was known to hoard stress toys in my bag, at work, and in my dorm room.  I still carry at least 1, if not 5, stress objects with me daily.  Heck, even our wedding rings serve as stress objects (they are 3 interconnected rings that I can either take off to play with, or easily roll up and down my finger if I need my other hand for something like driving or writing).  I try to keep most things unobtrusive, as I’m supposed to be an adult now, and carrying around a beanie baby just gets me a whole bunch of weird looks (I rarely carry anything I cannot fit in my pockets, and lately they happen to be “girly jean” pockets, so space is at a premium).

I realized I have a piece of jewelry that I use quite a bit, but had no concept of it until I wound up at The Center (a dedicated Trauma Psych unit in DC).  They did a lot with creative expression and making tools to help ground.  One of the things I made while there was a “grounding bracelet”.  It’s pretty much a single enclosed loop of beads with an additional length of beads – long enough to wrap again around my wrist a second time.  When I have it on, it looks like a double-stand beaded bracelet.  If I need something to fidget with however, I can unwrap the long strand and play with it.  It’s really easy to make, and has come in handy when I need a way to ground or calm myself.  Some of the girls I had worked with in the past really liked the concept (though I never disclosed it’s purpose to them) of having something they could wear that they could also play with.  I remember one night sitting down with a handful of them and everyone making a bracelet.

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To make a grounding bracelet you will need: (see also here)

  • thicker stretchy jewelry string
  • beads of your choice (I used glass beads but you can use any beads you like)
  1. cut a length of jewelry string long enough to wrap around your wrist twice, plus about 3 inches (to allow for knots and a length to tuck under the loop when not in use)
  2. tie a temporary knot at one end and string your beads (can also loop the string back through the bead so it stays in place while you add the others). Make sure you do not string them too tight because it will make the next step difficult. I used a larger bead at the loose end help keep it in place when not in use (doesn’t slide out as easily.  It is also a nice “focal bead” to fiddle with – slightly bumpy in texture for when I want to feel something a little more rough).  I used a variety of shapes and colors, but kept to colors I find soothing.  Some of the beads used to have a sand-blasted texture, but that has since worn off from too much fiddling.
  3. tie one end (without the large “end bead”) back onto the string so that you have the closed loop portion of the bracelet (once around your wrist). Make sure you tie a solid knot at both ends, but especially the loose end. Voila! You have a grounding bracelet!

To wear, simply slide the loop over your wrist, wrap the long portion around a second time, then tuck a length of it underneath the closed-loop portion of the bracelet.  I found mine slips loose if I only tuck it under once, so I loop it back onto itself again and tuck under a second time.  It looks just like any other piece of jewelry, but can double as a therapeutic tool when needed without advertising what it actually is.

wpid-PicsArt_1388899069631.jpgI also made a keychain there with similar intent.  It is a “tassel” of different glass beads attached to a larger bead on a silver ring.  There are about 5 or 6 different strings, each with different colors, textures, and shapes of beads.  I do not use it quite as often as the bracelet (it’s a bit bulky), but I carry it with me when I need extra choices for stress toys.  If I have my backpack with me, my current selection offering of stress relief is: 3 different scented lotions, a squishy ball, a sandalwood scented travel candle, a squeezable ghost, a tangle toy, my stress keychain, my iPod, silly putty, and a glass heart given to me by my first ever therapist.  When I’m feeling particularly vulnerable, Beary, my stuffed bear, will make her way into the bag.  If I only have pocket-space, then I take my heart, the candle, and my iPod. I have taken to wearing the bracelet daily regardless of space for other things to bring.  It has come in very handy while shopping (holiday crowds can be crazy!), in therapy, and any other time I need help reducing anxiety.  I even find myself playing with it randomly when there’s no anxiety or stress present.  I’m really glad I was given the opportunity to make it.

Does anyone else have a “portable stress kit” they use?  What’s in it? Do you find it helpful?


figured out a bit of why DBT triggers me rather than helps…

I was rambling on in my therapist’s office today, mainly about the move and all it was triggering. Then we got on the topic of finding a therapist once I move. I told her about the program run by the psychologist she had mentioned, and how they make DBT a required part of the program. I was telling her that I am not really sure why it triggers me so much, but it always does… She asked if it had anything to do with the way it is taught. I had to think about it and we talked about it. We came up with that being one of the huge triggers of the program for me. It brings up so much of my childhood and my interactions with family and well-meaning friends… The style is just too harsh for me. And it doesn’t let you process what comes up, just tells you not to indulge the feelings it brings up, and how to get through the feelings… While it is not intended to be invalidating, it comes off as very much so (to me). I also have trouble asking for what I need, because I often don’t know what I need. The lack of processing then makes it difficult for me to understand where to go next.
With that realization, I now have a better answer for clinicians when they ask me “Why don’t you want to try DBT again?” It also got us on to a discussion of why it is that so many facilities and clinicians push the DBT model on their clients… Wasn’t it developed by Marsha Linnehan because other popular treatment strategies did not work? She saw a need for an alternative, figured one out, and marketed it well after proving it successful with some. It seems like since that breakthrough, everyone has decided that it is the best (and often times the ONLY) option offered to anyone struggling with emotion regulation and self-injury. What happened to the knowledge that one approach does not work for everyone? What happened to trying to find alternatives so that people are not left in the dark when that one option doesn’t work for them?

I think i found a focus for my dissertation whenever it is that I go back to school… We need alternatives to the DBT and CBT approaches for people like myself who do not benefit from the way they are structured (tho the info and skills are good)… Just sayin’….