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"DBT turned my life around"

About: Child and Adolescent Mental Services / CAMHS - North Team

(as a service user),

Today, I've officially completed the quite intensive programme of the 16-week DBT  (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) offered by my local CAMHS facility in Letterkenny Co. Donegal and I am content to say that the therapy programme has significantly improved/ revolutionised my perception and approach to life as well as relationships with others.

Before the programme, I used to struggle with severe anxiety and panic attacks, self-harm, academic burn-out, insomnia,  suicidal ideation, symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, and symptoms of disordered eating, specifically ARFID and anorexia nervosa. Around late January 2023, I was at one of my lowest points mentally and was trying to escape my problems by keeping up the mask and lying to my therapist (no offence to her as she is one of the most compassionate people I know) in order to get discharged from CAMHS. I was really forced to agree to undergo DBT by my parents, who due to an unintentional error and dread towards my CAMHS discharge held onto DBT as if our family life depended on it, and even then, deep down I knew it was the truth but was afraid of facing my fears.

I must confess that I was very sceptical towards DBT at first, even to the point of silently but rudely giving everyone a piece of my mind during the first therapy session due to anxiety manifesting itself as frustration. It also didn't help that I was shocked by one of my classmates doing the programme with her mother also. During the first week of therapy, I must've googled phrases similar in context to "DBT is pointless!" or "DBT doesn't work", a million of times.

I've participated in group therapy sessions alongside my mother, who was also at the beginning very reluctant to change her behaviour and ways. Yet as the weeks flew by and as more skills were introduced/ shown to us, we really noticed the great positive impact they had on our individual life and the relationship between us.

Now I am proud to share that I haven't self-harmed since before the DBT, my obsessive-compulsive thoughts have drastically reduced and I no longer give in to compulsions, and I am currently working to improve the relationship I have with food and my body. Additionally, the relationship and understanding I have with my parents is stronger than ever before and I am able to manage my anxiety, dare I say, without any major issues.

I really found the "phone-coaching"/option to make a phone call in a crisis situation very helpful as it has hugely contributed to my discovery of how to healthily cope with and respond to crisis situations, however, I do think that the "phone coaching" option, with the addition of individual therapy, should've been offered to the parents too because my mom was lost and didn't know what to do in a few instances as well.

My therapist was one of the DBT therapists herself and she had steadily helped me to get my well-being back on track again over the course of DBT, and had provided me with really helpful advice and guidance in the times that I did use the "phone-coaching". Overall my mom and I found every therapist to be very polite, sympathetic and friendly and each of them had given us wonderful insight and clear instructions as they explained the DBT skills and theory.

The DBT done by the north team of CAMHS, Co. Donegal has turned my life around for the brighter and better and I sincerely hope that many others will get a chance to benefit from its future runnings.

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Responses

Response from Paul Crossan, Clinical Nurse Specialist, CAMHS North Team, Donegal Mental Health Services 13 months ago
Paul Crossan
Clinical Nurse Specialist, CAMHS North Team,
Donegal Mental Health Services
Submitted on 24/05/2023 at 17:39
Published on Care Opinion on 26/05/2023 at 09:55


Thank you Purpleheart007 for your detailed feedback on the DBT service provided by CAMHS Donegal. DBT has been running for over 10 years now offering a 16 week multifamily programme serving the three CAMHS teams located within the County. As you have described, DBT has positively changed the lives of many young people and their families who have availed of this programme. I am delighted to read your own personal experience of how DBT has positively impacted the challenges you have encountered with regards to your mental health and facilitated better, healthier ways of coping - and ultimately helped you to 'build a life worth living'.

I'd like to thank you for taking the time to provide this valuable feedback, as it is important for us to recognize and appreciate the positive impact that this service has on young people and families. Indeed, DBT is just one intervention of many provided by the wider CAMHS service, and we welcome all feedback from service users on their experiences so that we can build on what we are doing well and also make the necessary changes to improve our service as required.

Thank you once again, and on behalf of the DBT team and CAMHS service I wish you all the very best in the future.

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