“Radically accept” – Am I ready for this?

The term “radical acceptance” is a concept that can be easily understood by clients, but more difficult to put into practice. The concept is not new; however, has risen in popularity as a result of the development of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) in the early 1990s. Marsha Linehan, theorist and clinician, describes radical acceptance as something that is necessary to solve life problems. To radically accept is to accept the universe as it is, with radical indicating total (not partial) acceptance. To practice radical acceptance is to move past one’s own suffering. It is a means to modify extreme misery into normalised grief/sadness to improve adaptation to reality.

DBT radical acceptance

DBT radical acceptance

I recently attended a workshop, run by the Byron Clinic, facilitated by Marsha Linehan who encouraged the use of metaphors to describe the idea of radical acceptance. She talked about personal experiences where the concept could have been applied to her own life, which she shares in session with her own clients and therapists training in DBT. Other metaphors described were on a spectrum of challenges from day-to-day problems to extreme hardship in life. Some examples to which the concept could be applied to are: losing your dream job due to redundancy, living next-door to constantly disruptive neighbours, and discovering your long-term romantic partner has been “hooking up” with your closest friend.

When people first hear about the idea of radical acceptance they sometimes ask: Am I ready for this? How do I apply this to my life? Am I accepting defeat?

Marsh Linehan describes four options when people are faced with life challenges:

(1) problem solving – you could identify options for changing your current situation;

(2) altering your feelings – by adjusting negatives into positives;

(3) accepting the problem – coming to terms with reality and moving on; and

(4) holding on to suffering – sticking with the anguish.

Importantly, by radically accepting, you are not: letting others get away with what they have done to you or agreeing with the ethics around what has happened to you.  Instead, you are giving up the internal battle in relation to the problem/s you have faced.

For more information on radical acceptance please visit:


Linehan (1993). Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder. The Guilford Press.


Dr Bonnie Sturrock

The Artwork – Abstracts by figurative artist Madeleine Casey

From March 8th 2014, Dr Sturrock’s new office at 113 Bridge Rd, Richmond will be home to two pieces of abstract art by Perth based figurative artist Madeleine Casey.

Madeleine indicates that the artwork was originally inspired by the famous Rorschach ink blot psychological tests and the butterfly paintings we all created as children in primary school. She said the starting point for the 2013 “Year of the Dragon” (pictured above) and “Mind Map” (featured below) was splattering the oil, acrylic and enamel paint on the canvas and folding the paper in half. She then painted portions of other detail to allow for open interpretation of either half or the picture as a whole.

Madeleine said the titles of the artwork were “quite literal to what I initially saw in the pictures, but the viewer always brings their own experience and perceptions to a piece of art and can see something completely different in them.”

The Artwork - Madeleine Casey

Mind Map – Madeleine Casey

I (Dr Sturrock) met the artist after visiting Blu Peter ( a North Fremantle lifestyle concept store owned by interior designer Adri-Ann Brown in an attempt to find some furniture for the new office. When I entered the store, I felt instantly inspired; it was filled with unique pieces imported for South Africa and of course the artwork which will soon take a place on my office walls.

Madeleine, who’s endearing smile I will never forget, and I chatted over many subjects including my interpretation of the artwork. I could see animals predominantly – a bull in the lower right corner of “Year of the Dragon” and a sea horse on the right in “Mind Map.” What these interpretations say about my unconscious, I’m not quite sure…

Clinical psychological training in Australia at the present doesn’t weigh heavily on the teaching and use of projective tests, such as the Rorschach ink blot. Tests of this nature were most widely used in the 1960s; however, still appear to be popular around the world (especially Japan) and in forensic settings.

I’m sure that the artwork will inspire many interesting conversations in the office…

What can you see?

Madeleine’s art has mainly focussed on figurative pieces and her abstract work represents a shift from this focus. Her work is generally reported to “deal with the negotiation of identity on both a personal and global level.” She has exhibited in both the UK and NZ, and her work has been featured in Marie Claire, Lucire, and House and Garden magazines. You can see other pieces of artwork by Madeleine Casey at