Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)

DBT is a therapy which was developed to help people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) to stop self-harming and suicidal behaviour and to work towards goals that for them, make a life worth living. At Gaskell House, we run a full DBT programme which involves weekly skills training sessions, weekly individual therapy and telephone coaching.

Who is it for?
Our programme is specifically for people who have BPD (also known as emotionally unstable personality disorder) where self-harm or suicidal behaviour needs addressing as a priority. However, you don’t need to have been diagnosed by a psychiatrist and your experience of symptoms associated with BPD will be part of the assessment to come onto the programme. You may have noticed that these symptoms are making it very difficult for you to think about or work towards what you want in life or have the kind of relationships you would like.

As the therapy prioritises stopping self-harm and suicidal behaviour, you do need to be agreeable to working on this with the support of your therapist although we understand that thinking about stopping this behaviour can feel daunting and bring up painful feelings. DBT is a behavioural here-and-now approach to change and so there is a lot of new learning and skills practice. It helps if you would find this a good fit for you, and to be aware of the reading, homework and practice requirements of this type of programme

We will not be able to offer you a place on our programme if you have a diagnosis of bipolar affective disorder, are substance or alcohol dependent, or experiencing an episode of psychosis. Your Body Mass Index (BMI) needs to be maintained above 15 to join and continue on the programme. You also need to be open to working in a group setting if required.

How does it work?
In the DBT model, the symptoms associated with BPD are understood as stemming from emotion dysregulation. The therapy helps people understand, tolerate and safely regulate their emotions as well as become skilled at managing related difficulties such as interpersonal problems. In individual sessions, you work with your therapist to understand why unwanted behaviours happen and have been hard to change. These sessions prioritise stopping risky behaviours before addressing other difficulties you and your therapist have identified. Your therapist will help you identify skills you can use to help you cope with problems without resorting to unwanted behaviour. They will also help you work towards your life goals. In the skills training sessions, 4 sets of skills are taught: distress tolerance, emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness and mindfulness.

How long is the programme?
When you reach the top of the DBT waiting list, there is a pre-treatment phase to the therapy of up to 6 sessions to be successfully completed before admission to the full programme. This is to make sure that DBT remains a good fit in terms of therapy for you and if not, an alternative therapies, support or returning in future to the programme will be considered.

The full programme takes around 13 months.

When and where does it take place?
DBT is offered at Gaskell House Psychotherapy Centre, Swinton Grove, Manchester. Usual times for weekly therapy are between 9am and 5pm although occasional out of hours slots may be available. Skills training sessions are usually on Thursday afternoons but may vary, individual sessions are negotiated with the individual therapist.

As a patient

As a service user, relative or carer using our services, sometimes you may need to turn to someone for help, advice, and support. 

Find resources for carers and service users  Contact the Trust