Dialectic Behavioural Therapy (DBT)

What is DBT?

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is a psychological treatment to assist people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder or those displaying borderline personality traits in learning and applying skills to improve their life. It consists of both individual therapy and group skills training.

Alternatives to DBT

DBT is an evidence based treatment for borderline personality disorder that is explicitly recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). However, there may be other psychological therapies that may be effective and you should discuss these with your referrer or assessor.


As with many other therapies, DBT is not without risk and you may experience a slight worsening of your condition as you begin to address some difficult issues. There is, however, a very good support network in place to help you deal with these difficulties if and when they arise and your therapist will discuss this with you.


The evidence base for DBT shows that it is effective in reducing self-harm and self-destructive behaviours. However, as we address a variety of problems it may be that you benefit from it in lots of other ways.

How long does therapy last and what is expected of me?

DBT groups are usually held weekly in your local area. They normally last approximately 2 hours, will have 8-12 members at most, and are run by professional therapists. The whole programme is one-year long and you will be expected to commit for this length of time.

In addition to the weekly group sessions you will have regular one-to-one sessions with a therapist. You will be asked to put into practice what you learn in the groups and fill in diaries.

How do I know if I am suitable for the group?

Individuals who are referred for DBT will be offered an individual assessment with a therapist. This will allow you to assess whether this would be for you or not.


Real Life Experience

If you'd like to share your real life experience, please email tewv.vrc@nhs.net for more information.