This week, I am going to focus on our DBT group therapy sessions at the farmhouse and what we have recently been working on in it. DBT therapy, short for Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, is a type of therapy that attempts to identify and change negative thinking patterns while pushing for positive behavioral changes. DBT also teaches you coping skills and mindfulness activities such as meditation. Recently in DBT, we have been working on and practicing our non-violent communication skills with the help of Nan, a therapist here at Ironwood who facilitates our DBT groups. We have been going off of a book called Non-violent communication – a language of life by Marshall Rosenberg PhD. He is the person responsible for creating non-violent communication. Non-violent communication is a type of communication that is meant to be non-threatening and non-aggressive. Using this method you can communicate your wants, needs and feelings in a more productive way which improves your overall communication.
We started off by defining the difference between “What is a feelings word?” and “What is not a feelings word? For example, I would often say “I feel disrespected”, when disrespected is not actually a feeling. Non-violent communication follows many rules and saying a real feelings word is one of them. Another rule of non-violent communication is avoiding using the word not when requesting something of someone. When we tell someone something we would like them to do instead of what we would not like them to do, it is almost always received better by that person, which is why it is a crucial rule to follow. I know that when someone asks me to do something, it is a lot easier for me to follow through on that thing instead of when they ask me to not do something. In practicing non-violent communication, I have realized that my communication is received a lot better when I use the format of “When you… I feel… because I need…” the official format of non-violent communication.
As a farmhouse community, we have been putting our non-violent communication to use in the form of expressing our wants and needs to the managers of all three campuses. We realized that complaining about the changes we want to see happen does nothing, so we decided to put our non-violent communication skills to use. Nan suggested that we make a list of the requests we have for staff, managers and therapists so we have been doing just that in our DBT sessions. In the past month or so, we have created a list of our wants and needs of staff which we presented with the help of Nan at our most recent house meeting. It was received very well by all three managers, and although there are still some things to refine and define on our list, we have taken the first step to getting our wants and needs addressed. Non-violent communication has strengthened the relationships I have with my peers and family, I am very grateful to have gotten the opportunity to practice non-violent communication. This form of communication will surely be a useful tool in the real world as well as Ironwood.