When you Dread your Next Session: Applying DBT principles to therapy with clients that leave you feeling helpless, demoralized, and resentful

We all work with clients who test our capacity to connect with them, feel compassionate, and act competently.

Clients may present as relentlessly hopeless, passive, and incapable. They may direct their anger toward us or accuse us of being ineffective. Or they may be especially high-risk, causing us to worry that they will harm themselves or someone else, and that we will face professional or legal consequences. These behaviours can leave us feeling anxious, ashamed, and resentful, resulting in us emotionally detaching and giving up. How do we manage this?

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) provides a model. But doesn’t DBT require multiple modes of treatment and intensive consultation? What do clinicians do when they don’t have such a structure in place? This workshop will present principles and strategies from DBT that clinicians can integrate into their therapeutic work with so-called “demanding” clients. Participants will learn to apply DBT’s biosocial model to their own experience and use acceptance, change, and dialectical paradigms to treat their own burnout and strengthen their capacity to work with the clients that most challenge them.