When trying to recover from struggles with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), complex trauma, and a brush with suicide; I found it difficult to find a therapy that worked for me. Most modalities felt judgmental, and didn’t take into account all the complexity of living with mental illness and trauma. That is until I found Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT). This was the therapy that I credit with saving my life; getting me to place where I could finally know stability, and even joy.  


What is DBT? How Does it Work?  

DBT, or Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, is a skills-based therapy model that uses exercises and group collaboration (group therapy) as well as one-on-one support to help you work through unhelpful thought and behaviour patterns. It focuses on being able to navigate emotional responses in healthy ways, as supposed to labeling thoughts/emotions as “negative” or “wrong” – as can sometimes be experienced in therapies like CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).  

You track your emotions and urges to engage in unhelpful behaviours throughout the week to see areas to work on, and watch your progress, which can be really gratifying. DBT discusses the reasons behind our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. This allows for more grey area and consideration for than in other therapy models, as far as I’ve experienced. DBT was developed by a person living with a mental illness, so going through the program really feels more like being guided by someone who’s been there and being delivered from on high.  


Why Was DBT a Lifesaver?  

DBT helped me confront and tackle the shame I had around my responses/struggles being in the world as a trauma survivor. It allowed me to hold gentleness for the way trauma had shaped me, while also encouraging me to find new ways to cope, interact with others, and deal with hard times.  

It also helped me forgive myself for sometimes falling short and taught me how to then pick myself up, be accountable and do better next time. It made feel supported in my struggles, and resilient when life threw things at me.  

I now feel equipped to make it through my hard days without being devastated and to be assertive about my needs and boundaries. DBT gave me back control over my life and a stability I had never known before.  


This piece was written by one of the ICLA eFriend Peer Support Workers. eFriend is an online platform where you can connect with a trained peer support worker whom has their own lived experience of feeling lonely, isolated, stressed or worried. You can speak to your eFriend Peer via video or phone call. Your eFriend Peer will listen, validate and provide hope. If you like, they can also assist you to identify any other services you may like to try or help you create plans to improve your personal well-being. Or they can simply listen.

To book your first call visit: https://my.efriend.org.au/preregistration/