Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

How DBT Works

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is specifically designed to treat people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) with self harming behaviours.


The goal of DBT is broken down into two key concepts:

  • Validation: Learning to accept your emotions are valid and acceptable.
  • Dialectics: A concept believing that life events are rarely “black or white” and that it’s important to be open to ideas and opinions that may contradict our own beliefs.

Your clinician will use these concepts to try to encourage positive changes in your behaviour. For example, the therapist could accept that feelings of intense sadness cause you to self-harm, and that behaving in such a way does not make you a ‘bad’ person.


Within your individual DBT sessions there will be a hierarchy of goals that you will discuss including:

  • How to keep you safe by reducing suicidal and self-harming behaviours.
  • Reducing behaviours that may interfere with the process of therapy.
  • To help you to improve your quality of life by addressing what’s getting in the way. This could include poor relationships or behaviours that stop you getting what you would like from life.
  • To help you learn new skills to replace harmful behaviours and help you to achieve your goals.

Who DBT Works For

DBT has been shown to be very effective in the treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder. It can also support individuals who are self-harming, have thoughts of suicide or major depressive disorder.

DBT sessions

DBT Therapy usually involves weekly one-to-one sessions with a highly trained DBT therapist. With borderline personality disorder treatments, you will typically undertake 6 months of weekly sessions that will last approximately 45–60 minutes.