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Perhaps you need to switch careers in order to give the soul more room to breathe. Perhaps you need to find more people to love or relocate to a place that helps your soul come alive.
Perhaps you need to give your soul permission to engage in more creative activities. Such eternal changes may be part of the prescription the inner doctor of your soul writes. Reconnecting to the soul allows you to find peace and happiness right where you are in ways that are much simpler and more profound than you might think.
The first step to healing from soul loss is learning to reconnect to the guidance of your soul. We invite you to join us by registering here. You are always being guided. You already have all that you need to heal yourself. Enjoy this post? Follow Lissa on Facebook.
The process is somewhat collaborative, driven by the patient as well as the therapist, and focused in the beginning simply on staying alive. One thing patients learn very early, for instance, is to notice when their emotions begin to stir, allow themselves to feel the storm whip up, then let it pass -- all without doing anything. This Zen-like self-observation, called mindfulness, is an exercise not in avoidance but in feeling and enduring emotional pain. It dramatizes one principle of the therapy: that what patients do can be independent of how they feel. Emotion does not have to rule behavior.
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While other clinicians might advise patients to fight, ignore or question their distressing emotions to defuse the sensations, dialectical therapists argue that those strategies are not much good. Most patients have already tried managing despair and loneliness in these ways, and they can't do it. That is why they keep landing in the hospital. Terence Wilson, a professor of psychology at Rutgers.
It is after they have pledged to change and demonstrated the ability to weather emotional squalls that people can best begin to learn the many specific social and behavioral skills that have proved successful in combating depression, anxiety and other forms of psychic distress. These include methods for disputing catastrophic assumptions, like ''I must be inadequate if I can't fix this myself'' and social skills -- for example, judging when it is appropriate in a relationship to make demands or to refuse them, depending on the type of relationship involved.
As they would in more traditional cognitive or interpersonal therapies, people practice these skills and track their progress by completing homework and diaries of their thoughts and behaviors.
When people ''slip'' and feel on the verge of harming themselves, they are instructed to call the therapist. Afterward, in sessions, they must painstakingly reconstruct a moment-by-moment narrative of how they went from feeling relatively fine to feeling desperate. When, exactly, did they decide to harm themselves, what happened just before that, and so on. The therapist insists that this recounting be done in a neutral, matter-of-fact way, despite the rage or shame in the story -- in effect, teaching the patient to regulate the emotions that in daily life drive them over the edge.
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The theory is that by acting differently from how they feel -- projecting confidence when afraid, say, or indifference when ashamed -- people loosen the hold of the emotion even though its origins have not necessarily been addressed at all. Finally, dialectical therapists make sure that the patients do not feel emotionally rewarded for attempting suicide or harming themselves. When some people overdose or cut themselves, they land in the hospital, where they are cared for, removed from the stresses of daily living and sometimes pampered.
In these cases the therapist works with the person and the hospital to remove this reinforcement, denying hospitalization, if possible, or at least making the stay less pleasant. Hospitalization can work in the opposite way as well. A woman and mother of three named Barbara, who lives in Connecticut and would give only her first name out of concern for her privacy, regularly cut and hurt herself well into her 50's, for reasons she could not explain.
In the past, she said, she got no help from therapy. But dialectical therapy was different. In more than half a dozen studies, researchers at the University of Washington and elsewhere have tracked the progress of some people at high risk for suicide with borderline personality disorder who received dialectical therapy, which typically includes one hourlong individual session a week, plus one weekly group session of more than two hours.
They have also followed similar groups of patients who received treatment as usual, seeing a series of therapists who each tried something a little different. After six months to a year, depending on the study, those who had dialectical therapy made significantly fewer suicide attempts, landed in the hospital less often and were much less likely to quit therapy.
Pilot studies testing the therapy to treat suicidal teenagers, juvenile offenders, depressed older adults and women with eating disorders have also been encouraging.