When I was in high school, I had mixed feelings about going back to school each year. I loved the idea of a fresh start. Every year, I got a new opportunity to start over, to reinvent myself. Though I remember loving this time of year, that wasn’t the case for many of my friends. Some of them would practically get sick before school started because they were so stressed out.
As therapists, we’ve all experienced those moments when we’re talking about a stressful topic or doing an exposure intervention and, all of a sudden, the client seems to be flooded with anxiety or gives you a blank, spacey stare. They may even look like they’re about to run out of your office. This is the time to use a grounding strategy.
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a treatment that was originally created by Marsha Linehan and her team to treat individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Folks with BPD have what’s called pervasive emotion dysregulation—in other words, they struggle to identify what they’re feeling, don’t have the skills to effectively manage the emotions that arise, and end up turning to problem behaviors (such as suicide attempts, self-harming behaviors, or substance use), in an attempt to cope.
New this month, Non-Duality Press presents The Unfindable Inquiry, the latest book from Scott Kiloby—a noted author, teacher, and international speaker on non-dual wisdom and mindfulness as it applies to addiction, depression, anxiety, and trauma. Kiloby is COO of MyLife Recovery Centers, an addiction treatment program that provides the innovative Naltrexone Implant.
When you practice mindfulness as a way of life, over time you start to notice that your understanding of what it means will naturally deepen. You may find an increased capacity to respond more flexibly to the present moment both in your personal life and your clinical work. But even when you have intimately experienced and felt the depth of the practice, you may somehow still struggle to describe it or put it into words when necessary for client work.
When asked to describe their experience, people who suffer from anxiety more commonly cite a cluster of physical symptoms than emotional or mental sensations. Things like shortness of breath, muscle tension, hyperventilation, and palpitations are just a few examples of what people with anxiety may experience during a flare-up.
Mindfulness in the context of psychotherapy is more than just a technique or a theoretical perspective; it is a way of being with and relating to experience. Regardless of whether or not you choose to incorporate formal mindfulness practices in your sessions with clients, having your own mindfulness practice will positively inform your work.