5 Strategies for Sticking With DBT and Recovery (Even When Times Get Tough)

Please welcome back Healing From BPD Guest Blogger, Mary:
Debbie has asked me to write on my experience thus far of participating in an Intensive Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Treatment Program.  More specifically, she has asked me to give some words of advice to others in such a program who may find themselves exhausted, overwhelmed, and in a painful storm of emotion, tempted to throw it all away.  I promise you, those feelings are sure to come at one point or another, and they can feel excruciating.  As Debbie has said to me, “Recovery is not all unicorns and rainbows.”
               Take a moment to digest that.  Recovery is not smooth sailing.  You don’t just show up to classes and magically “get better” as each module is taught.  There will most likely be many personal challenges, real-world examples and experiences of your group members that hit close to home, relapses, and very old wounds uncovered.  Oh, yes!: life keeps moving along as you go through recovery, throwing its periodic curve balls in your direction.
               The upside is that DBT and similar therapies provide invaluable tools and skill sets for weathering these emotional storms and meeting life’s challenges head on.  You’ll also be able to use the therapeutic environment as a place to practice and refine skills before using them in real-life situations.  If you’re lucky, you will also be paired with an individual therapist whom you can call in moments of distress for skills-focused phone coaching.  The key in all of this is that you commit to wellness and give yourself over to the process of recovery with every ounce of your being.
           Here is an outline five of my favorite strategies for sticking with it, even when I’m most tempted to give up on my recovery and quit the treatment program: 

My Top 5 Strategies for Sticking With It:

1.      Take a Moment to Pause & Write Out Some Pros and Cons
2.      Use Thought Defusion to Stop the Thought-Belief-Behavior Cycle in its Tracks!
3.      Identify Your Values & Let Them Guide You
4.      Radically Accept & Assume a Stance of Willingness
5.      Cultivate Some Healthy Selfishness.  This is about YOU!

Thank you for reading.
More Soon.


  1. Ladies - thanks for this post. I've been struggling with DBT related question and I'm hoping you can help. I really get how DBT will help me get less stressed, manage my emotions better etc - but I don't understand how it may help me with problems I have in love relationships. (Without boring you with details, I've had several long term relationships with people that really care for me - but then after a while my anxiety kicks in - and after months of struggle and stress - I end up breaking up with them). I really want things to work out, but the anxiety is too much and I strongly feel I have to get out.

    1. Hello Kate -- DBT has helped me in the context of love relationships (and other relationships) by helping me to first manage my emotions, by learning how to consider the other person's perspective and experience more deeply, and by reducing the self-sabotaging behaviors I engaged in that pushed people away and ruined relationships. I hope this information helps!

  2. Sorry, my message was cut off there.. Anyway, it's a reaction I'm hoping to change (even though it feels so primal). Will DBT help with this aspect of BPD? I really hope so, as its discouraging to think I will never be able to sustain a healthy relationship. I'm trying so hard to learn DBT, but it's the one thing that makes me wonder if its pointless! Ps, Debbie - I love that you have this blog and am so excited for you as you recover and grow! xx

    1. Hi again Kate -- from my perspective, it is far from pointless, but it will take TIME and lots of dedication and practice. If you're willing, there is great reason to be hopeful. Huge hugs! ♥



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