“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: http://www.dbtselfhelp.com/html/radical_acceptance_part_1.html


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 (www.blupeter.com.au) 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 www.madeleinecasey.com

The Culture of “Selfies” – Good or Bad?

Dr BA Sturrock,
MAPS Clinical Psychologist 

“Selfies” are what urban folk refer to as taking photos of the self that are often sent to known others or posted in online social networking pages. Documenting one’s life through virtual images appears to be overwhelmingly accepted in today’s society and is an important part of many people’s identity. But is this harmful behaviour?

As “Selfies” are an emerging trend linked to the ever increasing use of internet for social purposes, little is known about the potential positive and/or detrimental impact on the self-esteem of those presenting the virtual images other than from personal reports. The scientific evidence is currently lacking, however, we do know that there is a link between low self-esteem and greater frequency of social network postings (Schwartz, 2010). It is also understood that ones self-esteem could suffer from uploading photos of themselves because they are open to scrutiny from others. So why is it that a person would feel compelled to post a picture of themselves to their social network?


The rationale and decision-making with regard to these postings typically involves one’s desire to gain instantaneous attention and feedback from their social networking friends. This feedback may serve to strengthen or weaken one’s approval or disapproval of the self. In this case, a continuous need for peer acceptance and validation may indicate a lack of self-worth, feelings of inferiority, or a need to belong.

Posting excessive virtual pictures of oneself could also be indicative of internet addiction, poor decision making skills, impulsivity, and/or a grandiose sense-of-self, of which any may negatively impact on one’s functioning in relationships and society.

Alternatively, posting photos of one’s self could be seen as a form of expression or artwork analogous to the famous work of Francesca Woodman. The pictures may tell a story, entice individual interpretation, help to maintain relationships by connecting in the visual sense, reinforce one’s sense of achievement, or benefit others via modelling of positive behaviour. !

Are men and women equally open to the same potential deleterious psychological and social outcomes that result from posting virtual pictures?

Again, to my knowledge this is relatively unknown from a scientific standpoint. Nevertheless, some research has indicated that females spend more time on social networking sites (Thompson & Lougheed, 2012) and, therefore, have more time to upload these images when compared to men. Despite gender, posting virtual pictures may seem appealing, but it is important for those posting these to determine whether this outweighs the potential cons. Posting excessive virtual pictures of oneself without weighing up the pros and cons of this behaviour could result in feelings of regret in the long term.


Madeline Schwartz, “The usage of Facebook as it relates to narcissism, self-esteem and loneliness” (January 1, 2010). ETD Collection for Pace University. Paper AAI3415681. 

Thompson, S. H., & Lougheed, E. (2012). Frazzled by Facebook? An exploratory study of gender differences in social network communication among undergraduate men and women. College Student Journal, 46(1), 88–98.