Family and Friends Group Programme

The families, friends, partners and carers play a number of very important roles the lives of people with psychological problems. First and foremost, they can play an important role in supporting and helping their loved one cope with their problems and develop more effective coping skills.

Anyone who has been in a relationship of some sort with someone with a more severe or complex problem will know that interactions can at times be challenging. Even people with the very best intentions may do or say things that make things worse at that time. Frustrations can boil over into anger, harsh things are said, then there is guilt, regret and so on. Sometimes these interactions develop into long term patterns, while at other times that may result in the relationship falling apart.

People who attend the skills group participate in an active process that helps them acquire new skills. This is quite different from most ‘psychotherapy’ groups, which focus on in-depth exploration and analysis of the person’s personality and past history. In DBT group we work on what is happening how, and how to develop ways of responding differently and effectively.

There is also the problem of carer burden. Families, friends, partners, carers and so on can often develop their own problems as a result of their role. Depression, anxiety, problems with alcohol or drugs, can all be a consequence of carer burden. Often people feel guilty that they have a problem and will try to hide it, or they may not seek help even if they need it.

The DBT Family and Friends programme is aimed at these and other issues. Through the programme participants learn how to help their loved one more effectively and how to also help themselves.

The programme helps participants to:

  • Understand complex and severe psychological problems from a DBT perspective
  • Use the DBT perspective to develop an understanding of their loved one’s problems
  • Understand what his going on in treatment for their loved one
  • Develop skills that complement DBT therapy
  • Apply DBT skills to their own emotions
  • Model the skills taught in DBT in their relationship with their loved one
  • Cope with their own feelings of guilt, anger, blame, regret and so on
  • Develop their own self-care skills, including setting and maintaining boundaries

The programme runs once a week in the evening for twelve weeks. It involves a group of approximately fifteen people who are in some way involved with someone with the type of problem usually helped by DBT. The groups involve discussions, teaching, skills development, and homework. The groups are very supportive and focused on developing long lasting change.