Psychological Therapies

David’s story

“When I was first asked if I wanted to take part in a group to undergo a new psychological treatment called RO-DBT (Radically Open-Dialectical Behavioural Therapy), I was somewhat sceptical. I was further informed that it is specifically for over controlled people.

“I have a particular dislike of labels, especially when it comes to mental health. I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which whilst I like the highs that come with the mania, I don’t get them very often. So the biggest problem to tackle is the lows, which are often related to anxiety. This is where Radical Openess comes in, or so I have learnt over the past several months while applying the techniques I have learnt on the course.

“Over controlled people like me are emotionally constricted and risk adverse. I soon found that there were many areas that applied to me. For example, I didn’t like stepping out of my comfort zone, engaging with other people being one of them.

“Radically Open people are pro-social. I have been shy since I was a child, but have always wanted to be part of a group and to be liked by other people. What I didn’t realise was that I had a “back-off” face. It is common with over controlled people to have rigid facial expressions, perhaps unintentionally brought on as part of an internal defence mechanism. This meant that when I was relaxed and happy I wasn’t showing it. In fact, my expression could look exactly the opposite, making people avoid me or ask me what was wrong. Through Radical Openness, I have learnt to relax my face and by a simple trick of raising my eyebrows, bring a smile to it.

“I have also learnt to engage with other people better by revealing something about myself. It doesn’t have to be anything major, just something small like how my day has been. Using this and other RO-DBT tools, I have become much more socially connected and a lot happier as a result.

“For me, when I don’t have control of a situation, high anxiety steps in. In the past, this lack of control would result in very high anxiety and depression, and possibly a hospital admission. Through Radical Openness, I have learnt to relax a bit more and be open to new ideas. Now when life deals me a bad hand, which it has done since starting this therapy, I am able to ride out the storm in a more relaxed and positive manner.

“The most important thing that I have learnt through Radical Openess is self-inquiry. By being prepared to look deep inside myself and analyse the way I am thinking, I have been able to make fundamental changes to my mindset, resulting in a more relaxed and happy person.

“Since I started the therapy I have got a job helping in a pubs kitchen in the mornings. Previously I would have been unsatisfied with such an ordinary job. Now I take a different attitude: the work keeps me fit, is low stress and I am making a difference by keeping the kitchen shipshape for the rest of the staff. In fact, at a recent staff meeting it was raised by one of the members of staff just what a difference I was making, which all the other staff wholeheartedly agreed on. That is Radical Openness in action. By being happy with myself and what I do, I have become popular and gained new friends. This is what I wanted all along and I didn’t have to win trophies to achieve it. Now I measure success differently and I am a happier person as a result.

“Radical Openness has become a toolkit I can dip into to help me with everyday life. I am now equipped with a set of well-honed tools which I use on a regular basis and are starting to become second nature to me. I have broken the mould of fixed mind thinking and now live flexibly, adapting to each situation with an open mind. It feels like I have spent my life sleeping and have only just awoken to the world of possibilities around me. I have been given a gift, a gift that has restored my self-esteem and allowed me to be fully socially connected for the first time in my life.”