Dialectical behaviour therapy for self-harm and borderline personality disorder

Some evidence – there is enough evidence to indicate that this can be a helpful treatment option.

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is an intensive psychological therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). It is a longer-term treatment, and usually takes place over the course of a year. DBT is based on cognitive behavioural therapy and also includes techniques borrowed from meditation (such as mindfulness) and attitudes and values borrowed from religions such as Zen Buddhism.

DBT includes a combination of group therapy and individual therapy, both usually once a week. In the group session you will learn skills to help you cope with common problems caused by BPD. Your individual therapy will usually focus on reducing self-harm and other risky behaviours.

DBT has been adapted for young people who are living with their parents or carers, and this includes sessions with your parents or carers where they learn similar skills to those in your sessions. There is some evidence that DBT can help with BPD and DBT is specifically recommended for women and girls who have frequently self-harmed and are troubled by suicidal thoughts and wishes.

Treatments outlined on these webpages may not be available in every local area. It’s important that you discuss with your GP or mental health professional the treatment options available to you. You can also search for services near you on our Youth Wellbeing Directory and find out more about referral processes here.

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