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New psychological therapy will help deliver mental health strategy

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

The recent qualification of four of the Island’s mental health professionals in Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) represents a step forward for the Isle of Man’s Strategic Plan for Mental Health and Wellbeing

DBT is a talking therapy primarily used to treat problems arising from personality disorder; a condition where someone’s patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving differ from the ‘average’ person.  These patterns can be hard to change and people with the condition have a more limited range of emotions, attitudes and behaviours with which to cope with everyday life, often causing them difficulty. 

Minister for Health and Social Care, Howard Quayle MHK, welcomed the initiative:

“The ability to offer DBT to individuals with a personality disorder supports the Government’s efforts to deliver the Island’s mental health strategy.  

“At the heart of the strategy is our stepped care model which actively seeks to increase or reduce the level of support available to those with mental health problems, depending on their need at any given time.  DBT should help reduce the need for specialist intervention for those with personality disorder by teaching individuals new skills and enhancing their ability to cope.” 

“Fundamentally this approach aligns with a key objective of our overarching strategy for the Island’s health and social care services: focussing on prevention and earlier intervention to improve the quality of life for our community and reduce costs.” 

In particular, DBT will assist in meeting the strategy’s goals of reducing the levels of acute crisis and improving access to and the provision of psychological therapies. 

DBT is based on the more widely known Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT, which focusses on changing people’s ways of thinking.  DBT also follows this approach but, in addition, aims to help people to accept their personality and who they are.  Whilst CBT can be undertaken by individuals without the support of a mental health professional, DBT relies on discussion and interaction on both a one to one and group basis. 

DBT is made up of four parts:

  • Skills training – regular group sessions that focus on teaching behavioural skills such as: mindfulness, regulating emotion, tolerating distress and interpersonal effectiveness
  • Therapy with a mental health professional – regular one to one sessions that focus on applying the skills learnt from the group sessions
  • Phone coaching – one to one sessions to provide in-the-moment support to enhance the ability to cope with difficult situations as and when they occur
  • Consultation team meetings – regular meetings between therapists to discuss cases, progress, new referrals etc. to develop and build upon best practice. 

A two day education session was recently held for healthcare professionals, service users, police and officers from the Youth Justice Team, with senior DBT trainers visiting from the UK.  The aim was to expand the number of skills training groups on the Island, one of the therapies four key components. 

Orla Oyler-Torin, Clinical Lead with the Mental Health Service, said:

“The Island’s mental health strategy seeks to foster a collective responsibility for the mental health of our community: mental health is everyone’s business.  From the beginning we have sought to work with those in healthcare and criminal justice to help raise awareness of this therapy and involve professionals outside of mental health in the DBT process.”

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