The Family & Friends Group has been operating continuously since 2015. Over that time it has developed a Manual to guide its operations, developing its own model to complement existing supports and training programs. The technical term, 'carers' is used to describe family members and friends. It often sits uncomfortably with us though. To be considered the carer of an adult person seems incongruous and this suits the awkward space that we occupy within the mental health system. Our model of support is peer led, informed by ongoing monitoring and evaluation. It exists to support family members, encourage learning about BPD and all it encompasses, focuses on developing the techniques that work to improve relationships, especially with the person with BPD. In our Family and Friends Group people learn how to support their loved ones, not enable them.
If you'd like to join us, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Below is a record of the monthly meetings of the group with supplementary materials used in the training component of the meeting. We hope you find these of use.
January 21, 2020 - Boundaries for 2020
Hands up if you think you understand boundaries! I bet almost everyone puts their hands up but you know, there might be more to this boundaries idea than is commonly understood. Sometimes we complain because other people don't respect our boundaries - wait a second...don't the boundaries belong to us? So aren't they there for us to obey, not others? Boundaries are to respect our values, they are not rules of behaviour for others to obey. And herein lies our challenge. How do we stick by our boundaries and what difference does that make for us.
At our next family and friends group we will revisit what boundaries mean and why they work and how they help us. Come along, the more the merrier.
December 17, 2019 - Understanding BPD
There are different ways to define BPD depending on which theory you like. Whatever the definition, it is understanding BPD that counts and while all theories have valuable insights, understanding can be elusive. It can be that in facing reality our emotions might block our understanding. It is Fear, a sense of Obligation, and Guilt (FOG) that can inhibit how we see things, it blurs our vision and we must beware of the FOG.
With knowledge comes understanding, those who love someone with BPD learn to understand themselves better as they learn to understand what BPD means to the ones they love. At our December meeting we will learn more about what BPD is and learn more about how we can better support our loved ones.
November 19, 2019 - Validation in greater depth
Schema Therapy is based on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and is successful in treating BPD. A core element of Schema is to explore the Childhood Emotional Needs that we all have:
Secure attachments to others (including safety, stability, nurturance and acceptance)
Autonomy (competence and a sense of identity)
Freedom (to express valid needs and emotions)
Spontaneity and play
Realistic limits and self control
Recognising, understanding and identifying our own unmet emotional needs is the beginning of taking control of our emotions. The November session is dedicated to learning more about how we can do this and how it helps us recognise the emotions of others and helps us then validate the emotions of others.
October 15, 2019 - validation explored
Last month we revisited how to validate others. That involved improving our listening skills to build the relationship we have with others. Non violent communication is way of communicating what we want to others. This session is focussed on how we speak to others to communicate the things that are important to us. The nine minute video opposite is an introduction to this concept.
Non violent communication is expressing honestly and receiving empathetically, specifically:
the concrete actions we observe that effect our well being
how we feel in relation to what we observe
the needs, values and desires that create our feelings
the concrete actions we request in order to enrich our lives
september 17, 2019 - validation
How to tell the difference between validation and invalidation can be a challenge. To recognise when we are being invalidating is even harder because we do live in an invalidating world. But when we feel validated we feel that someone might understand, we feel listened to. the video opposite explains it beautifully.
Validation is skill, a technique that is possible to learn. It requires conscious concentration until it becomes a default way to respond to others. It requires focussed practice and mindful listening in order to grasp the skill. When we are able to be more easily validating, we can see an improvement in our relationships with others. Validation makes a difference.
august 20, 2019 - Self acceptance
In the video opposite, Tara Brach hugs her evil twin! the video goes for less than 2 mins, check it out.
Radical Acceptance is a core element of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy. After Marsha Linehan went to Japan to study Zen Buddhism, she introduced the concept into her work, she recognised that for people affected by BPD that this concept was critical to being able to accept change in our lives. Like all our concepts, it seems simplistic on the surface while actually this concept and the others we work with are deceivingly complex. This doesn't mean that its too hard to understand, it means that it takes time to understand. It is through the dialectic interaction between our thoughts and our actions that we reflect upon and gain the understanding that we need to better support our loved ones.
july 16, 2019 - radical acceptance
The group met as usual and welcomed some newbies too, others were on holidays or couldn't make it, so we weren't crowded.
One strength within the group is that we all understand and this creates a powerful sense of support. This is aided by our learning activities, for July it was Acceptance 101 where we considered the difference between acceptance and radical acceptance. Most importantly we considered why this concept could be of help, and learnt techniques to help us achieve radical acceptance. As with all the concepts and techniques we deal with, it is not easy, but the reward of helping us to better support our loved ones, is great.
We prepared a handout for those who could not join us: click here
June 18, 2019 - Mindfulness and positive psychology
The June session explored the explanation of Positive Psychology in how we perceive our world and the effects this has upon us. We learnt the importance of controlling our thoughts with positives and how to change our negative default ways of thinking.
There is a 5 minute YouTube clip that is a brief explanation of what Positive Psychology is (click on the flyer opposite).
It is good to be able to learn simple techniques to help us better control ourselves and help us feel empowered.
May 21, 2019 - MIndfulness and gratitude
It was a small group that experienced one of our most powerful sessions. We revised what we have been learning up to date and followed this with a brief explanation of the benefits of cultivating a sense of gratitude. Gratitude is one of the core values of our Family & Friend's Group, so it was good to explore why it is so important to our group.
We completed the session with a short meditation on gratitude and it was this experience that was so very powerful. In spite of the pain that we can feel as family members of someone with BPD, we can feel gratitude and experience the support of others just like us. This is energising and helps us work on the techniques we need to build better relationships with those we love.
April 16, 2019 - MIndfulness - Feeling emotions mindfully
Familiar faces were willing participants in a simple mindfulness exercise. Ania explained to us the importance of being able to work with identifying our emotions mindfully. Regular short mindfulness sessions are most helpful in reducing our response to stress. The link to the Smiling Minds website (to your left) has a short video explaining this - just click on the photo.
Next month we will be exploring how to recognise our emotions better in Mindfulness 102.
All family and friends are welcome to attend, please rsvp to email@example.com.
March 19, 2019 - Hierarchy of needs
It was a small but enthusiastic group of 8 who accepted the challenge of learning Boundaries 103. Our final session on Boundaries pulled together the previous earnings and allowed us to explore the implications of having strong values based boundaries. Using the handout attached we were able to questions our needs, especially our emotional needs and what that meant in relation to our boundaries. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs allowed us to recognise the basis of much of our fears and therefore how to address them. We had an excellent discussion. Click on the image to see the activity handout.
Feb 19, 2019 - The 10 Laws of Boundaries
We met as usual at Sth Melbourne. There were a few apologies, but we made a comfortable number at 14 people. This was the second of three sessions on Boundaries. The work was dense and challenging but rewarding. The US Boundaries experts are McLoud and Townsend and they are nothing if not direct. They break down Boundaries into these 10 Laws, just like 10 Commandments which is no surprise as they are immersed in the Christian Religion. The work for our group however was revised so that there were no references to religion or the bible. It is less distracting that way. Click on the image to access an abbreviation of these 10 Laws of Boundaries.
Family & friend's group model
Over time, BPD Community has developed a model of working as a peer led group to support families of friends of someone with BPD and to help them improve their relationships with their loved ones.