I think after nine years of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) through multiple in/outpatient programs across the province (Ontario) I have earned the ability to review different programs. The most recent program I have embarked on is the intensive West 5th DBT program through The Borderline Personality Clinic (psychiatric wing). I’ll give you a little heads up on my experience or you can read my story here. I was diagnosed with BPD at a very young age (which is controversial) at 13 years old. From 13-19 I was in and out of long-term inpatient programs focussing therapy around DBT and my co-occupant disorders. Of course, I’m Borderline so whenever I had the chance to leave a program (aka. became voluntary) I left and would get the honour of relapsing and starting a new program. I managed over 1,200 days in a hospital bed which is around 3 years, however, my journey with inpatient lasted around 6ish years of revolving doors. My longest stay was a year and a half and my shortest lasted just a matter of hours (I only count being admitted to the psych ward – I do not count emergency room visits). The following programs are some of the ones I have experienced, be it fully or partially.
The Ontario Shores DBT Program for Transitional Youth
Ontario Shores Long-Term Inpatient Adolescent Program
Toronto General Hospital Eating Disorder Program
Lakeridge In/Outpatient Program (specializing in DBT)
Homewood Health CCD Program
Lakeridge Partial Inpatient Program (x3)
McMaster Treatment Program with DBT Group
St. Joesphs DBT Program at the Borderline Personality Disorder Clinic
The content of almost all DBT is essentially the same since it comes from Marsha Linehan’s method of treatment. The worksheets are all the same but the way in which we discuss and practice it is where the differences. I have to say at St. Joe’s 8-week program I was very happy with the mindfulness practices we did at the beginning of every session. I liked them because not all (but some) of the practices were on breath but the majority were on active mindfulness. In a room full of anxious people it’s hard to get them to relax and because we are only together for 8 weeks it’s even harder. So making mindfulness active it was nice to put aside the fears of quiet relaxation with others in the room and we were even able to connect to one another on a different level.
Tim Hortons Staff
Yes – it’s a weird thing to notice, but the Tim Horton’s staff and entry staff at St. Joe’s are all incredibly friendly. The Tim Hortons staff ran out of iced coffee one day but were able to make some on-the-spot which is rare to be offered (plus it tasted great). They are also always friendly with my service dog and give her free timbits for being a good girl. This is just a little something sweet that I’ve found at the hospital.
Size and Decor
The size of the actual unit and decor is nice. It’s a large area with lots of seating. The seating also includes handicapped seats and enough room that you’re not touching your neighbour. They usually have the Golden Girls on the TV or something light-hearted which is also nice. The staff out front is also nice and friendly and the hallways are large with lots of windows and court yards.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
At the DBT program in Ontario Shores we were given a full copy of Marsha Linehan’s DBT book for free which was nice to have since it kept everything organized and together, especially for some of us who aren’t the most organized and are a little (or a lot) forgetful. Myself included. At St. Joe’s however we are given printed sheets and the worst part is that some of these sheets have a dark grey background and black writing so it can be hard on the eyes to read. If there’s room for improvement it would definitely include updating the content to either something that is easier on the eyes or providing the actual textbook.
I’ve had to miss two classes in the eight week program and each time I found it very difficult to reach the unit. Luckily they always reach out if we miss a class so I am able to talk to them about it but initially finding the contact information is difficult and since the textbook accessibility is poor, even after writing down the information at group it’s easy to lose. I also had an experience where I called switchboard three times and each time they didn’t know the unit I was hoping to reach because the name of the program was going through changes. I still don’t really know what the name of my program is or the unit.
Open Floor Talking
I want to point out we have two facilitators, one of which I really liked and the other who wasn’t my favourite. The one I didn’t like as much tended to interrupt people when they were opening up which I found disrespectful. She also outed me as trans to the entire group which wasn’t cool. The other facilitator I actually very much liked and connected to. Again, room for improvement for the entire group would definitely include letting the patients speak without interruption.
Overall, I enjoy the program and I am excited to continue, I finished my initial 8-weeks and will be advancing onto phase 2 within the next week which is a more intense and personalized level. I will be sure to keep you updated on how everything goes but overall I give St. Joe’s a 8/10…not too shaby!