Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is a type of therapy that people receive to help them manage intense emotions. It’s typically used to treat people with borderline personality disorder; however, many therapists recommend it as a useful treatment option for people suffering from other conditions like eating disorders.

What is DBT Therapy?

DBT is a form of psychotherapy loosely based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). What differentiates these two treatment methods is that CBT helps people change their behaviours. In contrast, DBT helps people accept themselves while working on changing their behaviours. The American psychologist, Marsha Linehan, invented this form of therapy.

Who needs DBT Therapy?

As mentioned earlier, DBT was used to treat borderline personality disorder. However, over the years, many therapists have used it to treat other mental conditions, including the following:

  • Suicidal thoughts

  • Self-harm

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

  • Eating disorders, especially bulimia and binge eating

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Substance abuse

DBT has been approved for treating these conditions because it is believed that these behaviours result from unhealthy coping mechanisms used to control such impulses and emotions. So, instead of identifying ways to eradicate these problems, DBT helps them identify different coping mechanisms. We will discuss these coping mechanisms and skills even further.

How to identify a DBT therapist

Any qualified therapist can provide DBT therapy to all those that seek treatment. They could be a psychiatrist, psychologist, nurse, or social worker. However, that doesn’t mean you should go to any therapist. You need to find the right one for you.

One of the best ways to receive good recommendations is by asking trusted friends and loved ones for suggestions. You can also get a referral from your healthcare provider.

You must ensure that your DBT therapist has the required qualification and licence and that they specialise in DBT therapy and your area of concern. You can also research by visiting various therapist websites to find out which problems they can treat. You can create a checklist featuring points like:

  • Whether they’ve received training on DBT therapy

  • The type of services they provide under DBT therapy

  • Whether they belong to a treatment team

  • Their contact policies and information

  • Number of sessions and length of therapy sessions

Understanding how DBT Therapy works

The main goal of DBT therapy is to help patients find the perfect balance of learning to accept themselves while making healthy changes in their behaviour. During your sessions, your therapist will teach you new skills to help you regulate your emotions.

There isn’t a set structure of how all DBT therapy sessions should be, but a typical treatment session uses these four steps:


 Your therapist carries out this assessment before starting treatment. Through these tests, they will confirm if you need DBT treatment by asking you a series of questions and taking you through how DBT works. If you are comfortable with this therapy, you must share your commitment level and how long you would like to seek treatment.

Individual therapy

With individual therapy, you will be required to take weekly sessions with your therapist. A typical session should last between 40-60 minutes each. Through these sessions, you will learn how to protect yourself from your intense emotions and stop those negative behaviours that prevent you from receiving adequate treatment. It will also help you reach new goals by learning new skills that help you cope better. Keep records of each session to help you track your treatment.

Skills Training in Groups

During your sessions, your therapist will teach you new coping skills in group sessions. It’s different from group therapy and more like a classroom teaching style. Some of the skills you will learn are:

  • Mindfulness: Learning to stay in the present instead of worrying about the future or the past.

  • Interpersonal effectiveness: Learning to be more assertive and expressive in your communication, establish boundaries, and improve your self-worth and respect.

  • Distress tolerance: Learning to manage difficult emotions without resorting to harmful behaviours.

  • Emotional Regulation: Learning how to identify and be more aware and in control over your emotions.

Telephone Crisis Coaching

Your DBT therapist will encourage you to call them during emergencies outside your session hours. Typical examples might include the urge to indulge in negative behaviour or learning to apply your DBT skills in real life. Ensure you discuss the approved times and frequency of calls to know their open hours. Also, these calls aren’t therapy sessions, so they should be as brief as possible.

Factors that Influence the Cost of DBT Therapy

The cost of the treatment you receive depends on several factors, such as where you live and if your insurance can cover part or all of the cost. Some therapists offer clients payment plans or adjust rates based on their income or financial power. Some other factors include:

Funded or private services

You can seek DBT treatment from government-funded treatment centres at little to no cost. The waiting list might be long; however, it shouldn’t deter you from researching it, especially if you are on a tight budget. For private facilities, how much you will pay for DBT therapy will vary based on the type of provider you seek and the frequency of your sessions. So, how much does debt therapy cost privately? On average, group sessions might cost you £100 per session. Individual therapy sessions might cost you roughly £120 per session. However, check with your therapist to know their costs before committing.

Delivery style

How you receive treatment can also influence how much you will pay for treatment. It typically would be more expensive to pay for individual therapy sessions than for group sessions. Also, it might cost less to opt for online or virtual sessions instead of face-to-face sessions. Some people also opt for hybrid sessions, which can also help you stay within your budget.

Therapist expertise

The more experience and success your therapist has in treating patients with DBT, the more expensive they might be. Someone specialising solely in DBT therapy might charge more than a general therapist who provides a wide range of services. Usually, a specialised therapist will be in more demand and therefore, more expensive than a fairly new therapist.


Want to find out more about DBT, or are you ready to book in an assessment?

We are here to help, so send us your details via the form attached, and we will get back to you with the information you need.

Want to read about DBT in the meantime, then check out our DBT brochure below.

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