Dialectical Behaviour Therapy is a variant of CBT, adapted to help treatment-resistant conditions.

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Last updated Aug 11, 2021 by Dr. Sheri Jacobson Dr. Sheri Jacobson

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) in London

What is DBT?

Dialectical behaviour therapy is a type of therapy that combines standard cognitive behavioural techniques with concepts derived from Buddhist meditative practice. DBT was developed to treat people with borderline personality disorder and indeed, is the first therapy that has been demonstrated to be effective for treating this disorder.

DBT emphasises the following four skills:

  • Core mindfulness
  • Interpersonal effectiveness
  • Emotion modulation
  • Distress tolerance.

The aim of DBT is to create a practical way to help those who otherwise may remain resistant to treatment. DBT is a hybrid approach consisting of elements such as cognitive behavioural therapy (with the emphasis on the here and now), dialectical thinking (emphasising the limitations of linear ideas), Zen Buddhism (with the key concept of mindfulness) and metaphorical thinking (with the goal of viewing the situations practically).

What does DBT look like in practice?

DBT accepts and works with the fact that some people, due to environment and/or biology, react abnormally to emotional stimulation. Their levels of arousal rise very quickly and peak at a higher level than the average individual, because due to their past experiences they do not have a method of coping with these intense and often sudden surges of emotion. DBT targets behaviours in a descending hierarchy in the following order:

  • Decreasing high-risk suicidal behaviours
  • Decreasing responses or behaviours that interfere with therapy
  • Decreasing behaviours that interfere with quality of life
  • Decreasing and dealing with post traumatic stress responses
  • Enhancing respect for self
  • Acquisition of the behavioural skills in group therapy (four shown above)
  • Additional goals set by patient.

By following this structure, therapy sessions are less likely to be disrupted by patient behaviours and concerns.

What can DBT help with?

DBT is effective in treating patients with borderline personality disorder. It is also effective in treating people who suffer with ‘spectrum mood disorders’, including self-harm. Recent research also suggests its effective use in treating people with chemical dependencies and sexual abuse survivors.

Dialectical behaviour therapy is one of the types offered by therapists at Harley Therapy in addition to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). It is often recommended for borderline personality disorder, self-harm, addictions and sexual abuse issues.

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Harley Therapy Ltd. “Dialectical Behavioural Therapy in London • DBT Counselling”. Harley Therapy, 11 Aug. 2021, https://www.harleytherapy.co.uk/dialectical-behaviour-therapy-london.htm. Accessed 18 Sep. 2021.


Harley Therapy Ltd. (2021, August 11). Dialectical Behavioural Therapy in London • DBT Counselling. Retrieved from https://www.harleytherapy.co.uk/dialectical-behaviour-therapy-london.htm


Harley Therapy Ltd. "Dialectical Behavioural Therapy in London • DBT Counselling." Last modified August 11, 2021. Accessed September 18, 2021. https://www.harleytherapy.co.uk/dialectical-behaviour-therapy-london.htm.

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DBT in London

Issues for DBT

  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Self-harm
  • Addictions
  • Sexual abuse issues
What is dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT)?

DBT is a talking therapy for people who are often overwhelmed by feelings. It helps the person understand and accept their feelings, learn to manage them and make positive changes.

What is the difference between cognitive and dialectical behaviour therapy?

DBT and CBT both help patients to recognise and change unhelpful ways of thinking, but DBT helps the patient to accept themselves for having negative thoughts in the first place.


What does a dialectical behavioural therapist do?

A dialectical behavioural therapist helps the patient to recognise and improve their negative thought patterns and also to accept that having these thoughts doesn’t make them a bad person.

What occurs in a Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) session?

During a DBT session, the patient brings their “feelings diary” so that they can, together with their therapist, analyse it for patterns of thought and behaviour that they can improve.

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