Our first Youth to Youth FC group as seen by one our youth co-facilitators

Toronto - August 9, 2016

When the Family Connections (FC) Leader Training Workshop presented by Dr. Alan Fruzzetti and Dr. Perry Hoffman rolled around in October of last year, I was eager to attend. I hadn’t quite thought about leading a group myself, but I knew my sister was interested and figured I would get something out of the workshop as well. As it turns out, I was right. Simply being in a room filled to the brim with people eager to learn how to help others living with emotion dysregulation inspired me to find some way to involve myself. But being only 19, I wasn’t sure co-facilitating a group of middle-aged adults was exactly my calling.

On the last day of the workshop, my sister and I shared a moment of slight sadness at the fact that there were no Family Connections groups available for youth and siblings of people living with emotion dysregulation. It was then that we decided there was no harm in inquiring about starting one. After speaking with Lynn Courey and Dr. Fruzzetti after the workshop, the idea of a youth group began to materialize. The first Family Connections group specifically for youth including siblings, partners and friends of people living with emotion dysregulation would come to Canada in July 2016.

It would be led by myself, my sister and a friend living with BPD herself, who had a lot of prior knowledge of DBT and Family Connections. Although we found ourselves shaky at first, we were determined to live up to the Family Connections standards that Sashbear has established in Canada already. Having a team of co-facilitators made it significantly less stressful, and consistently positive feedback from the participants has pushed me to stick to it. About halfway through it now, I find myself growing more and more confident every week. An unprecedented perk to providing skills to a group of fellow peers is receiving the same kind of validation and skillful communication that we are teaching to them back. A bad week at home can turn into a beautiful learning experience by the end of a two hour meeting. I can confidently say that the group that meets with us every Tuesday evening is not the same group they were in the first week. Watching them learn and grow has made this a truly rewarding experience. I can’t wait to see how they are at the end of the FC group. I was apprehensive about my ability as a co-facilitator going into this, but I know that I’ve grown as not only a facilitator but also as a person. Teaching the skills is an incomparable way to begin to put them into practise, and I’ve already seen the results of this in my own relationships.

I await with eager anticipation for what the future holds for Family Connections. It is my hope that the pool of aspiring co-facilitators grows and grows and more people become involved in improving their loved ones lives. I hope one day that ‘Family Connections’ is a household name. I urge anyone thinking about co-facilitating a group to take that step and make it happen; today.

By Celeste
Sashbear Walk volunteer and Family Connections Youth co-facilitator 

  • We are all doing the best we can and we can all do better...
  • Let's remove stigma from mental illness and Borderline Personality Disorder...
  • We are all in this together, you are not alone...
  • Validation before problem solving...
  • Emotion Regulation Disorder is the new name for Borderline Personality Disorder...
  • Let's teach DBT skills in schools...
  • Let's intervene, let's intervene early...
  • Show me compassion and empathy first, don't just tell me how to change
  • Let go of judgments and believe in me so that I can believe in myself
  • Accept me so that I can better accept myself
  • We are all doing the best we can and we can all do better next time
  • Take care of yourself then you can attend to others
  • Be mindful - Observe, describe, participate effectively
  • Observe your own emotions rise and that of others, pause then engage effectively
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  • Validation is not agreement
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  • We can't control having strong emotions but we can change how we respond to them
  • Hope is everything and is always there even when I cannot see it
  • BPD is more common than Schyzophrenia and Bipolar Disorder combined 6%
  • The suicide rate of BPD victims is 400 times that of general population
  • BPD is the third leading killer of young women between the ages of 15-24
  • 1 of 5 seek help, 4 of 5 benefit from treatment
  • 4,000 young people die by suicide per year in Canada
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  • Stop the Stigma - by Speaking Up
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  • What we frequently think we become
  • Turning my auto-pilot off
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  • When you feel connected to someone that connection gives you purpose
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