DBT Therapy in London and Online

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is a unique form of psychotherapy that utilises both cognitive-behavioural and mindfulness-based techniques to help those struggling to regulate and cope with their heightened emotional sensitivity. The dialectical process of DBT focuses on integrating and navigating between the two opposites: accepting oneself in the present moment and introducing positive, long-lasting changes through various techniques and skills training. DBT effectively treats mental health issues such as suicidal thoughts [1], addictions, depression, anxiety or borderline personality disorder. DBT can also assist you in regulating your emotions which can positively impact your thoughts, behaviours and overall quality of life. In this article, we discuss what DBT is, how it works, what its benefits are and what to expect in the sessions.

If you’re interested in starting DBT Therapy, request a free 15-minute consultation today.

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What is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)?

DBT is a third-wave therapy approach introduced by psychology researcher Marsha Linehan in the late 1970s initially to treat suicidal individuals or those with borderline personality disorder. Linehan, who herself struggled with these mental health issues, noticed how traditional therapy emphasises either acceptance or change yet doesn’t integrate them.

In DBT, there’s an assumption that some of us have a higher emotional sensitivity, therefore, can react to certain situations in intense and unhealthy ways. That significant difference in arousal levels leads to painful emotional struggles such as extreme mood swings, negative thoughts, or thinking errors.
Another basic premise states that such issues come from a fundamental lack of essential coping skills, which DBT addresses throughout the course of the therapeutical process. In order to cultivate acceptance of what cannot be changed, DBT utilises mindfulness-based techniques. When applying strategies that foster a positive change, it draws inspiration from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

Nowadays, DBT is one of the most common approaches in therapy, treating many different issues. Clients themselves describe how this experience gave them the tools necessary to manage symptoms and helped them take charge of their life.

What’s the difference between DBT and CBT?

Even though DBT originates from CBT, it’s important to remember that the two approaches are not the same. While CBT prioritises changing and altering unhelpful thoughts and beliefs, DBT goes a step further by understanding that before the therapeutic work can focus on bringing positive change, the emphasis needs to be put on accepting the reality, however difficult and painful it might be. That means coming to terms with your life and understanding what steps need to be taken in order to support your well-being rather than surrendering and giving up on yourself. One simply cannot efficiently cope with the present day’s challenges without recognising and accepting them first. That is why moving between acceptance and change is so essential to the whole treatment.

What Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Can Help With

Even though Dialectical Behaviour Therapy was initially created for individuals with borderline personality disorder, it has been developed ever since to treat a wide variety of mental health difficulties as:

  • Self-harm [2]
  • Suicidal behaviours
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Borderline personality disorder [3]
  • PTSD
  • Addictions
  • Eating disorders
  • ADHD
  • Anger problems
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Relationship difficulties

Who needs DBT therapy

DBT is most helpful if you’re struggling with regulating intense emotional states, impulsivity, extreme mood swings, self-harm or suicidal thoughts. Even if DBT isn’t the primary approach used in therapy, some elements of DBT can also be implemented into a comprehensive, personalised therapy approach.

Let’s say you and your partner have a tendency to lash out at each other whenever you have a fight. Throughout the course of your couples therapy, you’re highly likely to practice the skill of interpersonal effectiveness, which comes from DBT, in order to foster healthy communication.

One of DBT’s skills – distress tolerance – can also be weaved in the therapeutic process of a person who struggles with depression. It can help them utilise techniques essential in preventing a downward spiral during times of crisis.

How does DBT Therapy work?

DBT assumes that all people are equipped with the skills necessary to cope with life. What we differ on is the level of those skills. Some of us might excel in certain areas while struggle in other categories in our lives. For example, a highly extroverted person who makes new friends easily can simultaneously experience difficulties with setting healthy boundaries and being assertive within those relationships. This issue, alongside others, is addressed throughout skills training that aims to enhance your ability to navigate between acceptance and change in life.

It’s important to note here that the skills training by no means resembles the experience of going to school. It more so serves as a blueprint for therapists, who adjust it to the individual needs and issues of their clients. They introduce specific skills in the appropriate moment of the therapeutic process, frequently following up with their clients on it.

Mindfulness

One of the first skills introducedfocuses on improving the ability to stay in the present moment. It does so by applying mindfulness-based techniques, which allow you to develop self-awareness and a non-judgmental posture that, in turn, fosters acceptance of things that cannot be changed in your life. Let’s say that you made a mistake a while ago and you keep replaying that moment in your head. Mindfulness can help you observe your thoughts and emotions from a distance rather than dwelling on them or reliving them. It also fosters a better connection to the here and now, which will help you let go of the past (or worries about the future) and focus on the present.

Interpersonal Effectiveness

Another important aspect of DBT is about helping you become more effective interpersonally. That means learning assertiveness and problem-solving skills, which make navigating professional and personal relationships easier, especially when faced with a conflict. Here, you will have a chance to learn, for instance, how to say “no” or set healthy boundaries.

Distress Tolerance

Crises in life and a heightened amount of stress from time to time are unavoidable. That’s why distress tolerance is a very important focus in DBT. This aspect of the treatment focuses on equipping you with essential survival strategies that will help you go through difficult times skilfully without making things worse. Different techniques will allow you to accept and cope with pain and discomfort healthily.

Let’s say that you’re going through a difficult period in your life and you’re experiencing a lot of stress. During your sessions, your therapist might guide you throughout a self-soothing technique that engages all of your senses, moving your attention away from the stressor and towards the various smells, sounds and colours of the present moment. 

Emotion Regulation

Originally, Marsha Linehan wanted to help people with borderline personality disorder regulate their challenging emotional states such as recurring anger issues, frustrations, depression, anxiety and suicidal behaviours. Therefore, this part of the therapy can educate you on the impact of emotions on your thoughts and behaviours, introducing a variety of emotion regulation skills that, when applied correctly, can lessen or prevent self-destructive tendencies.

How is DBT different from traditional psychotherapy?

DBT initially was created for individuals for whom traditional therapy simply didn’t work, as It mainly focused on changing the dysfunctions of clients without acknowledging their current state. Marsha Linehan realised how invalidating and judgmental that approach could feel for clients and introduced an alternative approach, where clients were always treated with radical acceptance. 

The framework, though, still focused on problem-solving and skills training. Coping with the hardships of one’s reality as well as learning and implementing new skills simultaneously can be too challenging in traditional therapy. However, DBT addresses that issue by splitting the treatment into different components, which altogether help clients move towards change while having their emotional needs met.

How long does DBT therapy last

Individual therapy sessions take place once a week and focus on reinforcing those skills, discussing any issues or the events of the past week and boosting the client’s motivation.
The length of DBT therapy can vary greatly, from 3 months to 2 years. It all depends on the nature and severity of the issue that you are experiencing.

What to expect in DBT therapy

DBT therapy is a specific form of treatment that might not be for everyone. It can often be quite demanding and time-consuming. Even though traditionally it consists of both group sessions and individual therapy, we provide the latter, ensuring a personalised 1:1 therapeutic context.

Throughout the whole process, you can expect to work in between sessions with worksheets and practice your skills, for example, by meditating. It is also common to keep a journal and receive homework to do outside of your sessions, which are a very important driver for positive change. Undoubtedly, the practice of specific skills might be challenging, especially exploring past trauma or becoming more aware of your emotional pain. It is beneficial to have a certain willingness to open up and discuss difficult topics, especially when done in the context of a non-judgmental and radically accepting therapeutic relationship.
That relationship is what makes DBT Therapy stand out from the crowd. Treating one another with acceptance and respect is a crucial aspect of the treatment. A lot of effort and attention goes to strengthening the alliance between therapists and clients.

What is a DBT session like?

DBT sessions differ from traditional talking therapy because they’re filled with much more exercise and practice time. For example, it is very common to have homework of filling out diary cards where you track your emotions and behaviours. Then, with your therapist, you can discuss their content as well as emerging patterns or any triggers connected to them. Based on those cards, both sides decide then what to discuss and work on during each session. Throughout the whole treatment, you learn and enforce different acceptance and change techniques with your therapist, who might challenge your unhelpful thoughts, encourage you to cope healthily and assist you along the way. Depending on your personal situation, you might practice meditation in order to stay in the moment, use imagery to self-soothe, role-play to increase your social skills, etc.

What are the benefits of DBT Therapy?

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy is not only highly effective in reducing unhelpful behavioural patterns, but also it can help you:

  • Accept yourself and your life circumstances:
    e.g. cultivating self-compassion and self-love instead of self-loathing
  • Recognise and understand your emotions:
    e.g. succesfully managing your anger or low mood
  • Challenge your unhelpful thoughts:
    e.g. preventing a downward spiral
  • Observe and replace your unhealthy behaviour:
    e.g. no longer engaging in self-harm behaviours
  • Effectively interact and communicate with others:
    e.g. resolving conflicts in your relationship healthily and setting healthy boundaries
  • Introduce a long-lasting positive change in your life,
    e.g. pursuing your passions regularly, achieving personal and professional satisfaction

Dr. Sheetal Dandgey

Clinical Director, Counselling Psychologist

Dr. Anna Hovris

Counselling Psychologist

Dr. Samantha Harris

Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Karin Kihlberg

Counselling Psychologist

Dr. Yasmeen Jaina

Counselling Psychologist

Tatum Aspeling

Clinical Psychologist

Dr Gail Freedman

Counselling Psychologist

Marisa Poggioli

Counselling Psychologist

Dr. Lynelle Roberts

Counselling Psychologist

Dr Sidra Chaudhry

Counselling Psychologist

Maryam Keshavarz

Psychotherapist

Stacie Hill

CBT Psychotherapist

Dr Nicholas Sarantakis

Counselling Psychologist

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The Therapist l had was absolutely brilliant with me. He had patience with me and bit by bit l gained a little of confidence to try and get out and go on the buses.

He deserves an award and if l could l would in the beginning l thought how is this person going to get me back on public transport but he did he gave me the confidence l lost and now have back.

I will never forget him and what he has done for me. I wish him nothing but the best in his life.

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My therapist was excellent. I highly recommend her and I am truly thankful for my sessions, I left feeling confident and positive.

The mental tools, systems and approaches I have been able to develop with her and use in my life have been hugely beneficial.

Thank you to all at Therapy Central.

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The Therapist really gave me the space to talk and express my feelings and fears in a very comforting environment.

She was there not only to listen, but challenge my thinking, guide me during the uncertainty I was experiencing and give me useful and practical tips to improve my mental health and wellbeing. Highly recommended!

(George)

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Working with the therapist has been a life-changing experience. Each session has been invaluable, helping me gain a good understanding of CBT methodology enabling me to incorporate ways to combat stress and anxiety in my daily life.

The Therapist shows that she really cares and has the ability to make you feel calm whilst discussing any personal issue. 

(Richard)

Fees & Insurances

Therapy, Counselling and CBT sessions are 50 minutes long and are usually held at regular weekly time slots.

Free
15 Minute Initial
Phone Consultation

£80 - £125
Psychological Therapy/
Counselling (Self-funded)

£115 - £150
Couples Therapy/
Family Therapy

Covered by
Your Private Healthcare Insurance Provider

Our therapists are registered with several insurance providers, such as AXAPPP, Simplyhealth, Bupa, Aviva, Cigna (UK/US), and WPA. If you wish to use your personal or employee private healthcare insurance to cover your sessions, please highlight this in your contact form below.

DBT Therapy in London and Online

If you feel like you’re stuck in a vicious cycle of unhelpful behaviour or struggling to manage your emotions, DBT therapy might be a good fit for you. It can help you introduce balance in your life by understanding yourself better, accepting things that are out of your control and introducing positive and meaningful changes leading to a higher quality of life.

Our therapists work integratively and utilise a variety of different techqniues and approaches in their practice, picking those that will meet your specific needs and unique circumstances best. They can assist you in achieving your goals and creating a life you will be excited to live to the fullest.

Get professional DBT therapy in London and online today and contact us for a free 15-minute consultation.

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    FAQ

    What happens after I make an enquiry?

    After receiving your enquiry, we’ll contact you to organise a FREE phone consultation. You will tell us more about your specific circumstances and needs and ask any questions you have. Then, if you want to proceed with therapy or counselling, we’ll match you with the therapist(s) with the best expertise to help you with your challenges and send you a list of their available appointment slots. If you’re satisfied with one of these, we can then go ahead and book your first appointment. You can also request to work with a specific practitioner, and, depending on availability, we’ll try to accommodate this.

    What happens at my first appointment with the therapist?

    Your first session will likely be different from future appointments. You and your therapist will get to know each other and will begin to build a working alliance. It will be a chance to have the confidential space to express your circumstances, feelings and thoughts and being listened to with depth, attention, empathy and without judgement. Your therapist will likely ask you more about your reasons for seeking therapy and any symptoms you’re experiencing. You may also be asked questions about your past and the history of your issues, as well as how they currently impact your life in the present. Finally, your first session may be a powerful place to discuss what you would like to achieve with therapy and agree on the length, methods, and treatment approaches.

    Is online therapy effective?

    If you choose online over in-person therapy, rest assured that this has been proven to be just as effective as regular face to face therapy, and in some cases, even more effective. Also, choosing online therapy brings additional benefits, for example, avoiding long waiting times, greater flexibility with appointments, and you won’t need to travel to our practice. You can enjoy online therapy from the comfort of your home.

    How long the Therapy/counselling sessions last?

    Therapy/counselling sessions last 50 minutes and are held at regular weekly time slots. On occasions, we can allow some flexibility. You can discuss this with your therapist.

    Do you offer reduced rates/concessions?

    We offer low-cost rates at £60 per session to people with a low income, unemployed, students and NHS workers. Please highlight in your enquiry if you would like a concession rate and how you qualify for this. Depending on the availability of our therapists, we’ll do our best to accommodate your request.

    Do you have a cancellation policy?

    We have a 48 hours no-fee cancellation policy. However, you will be charged for sessions missed without giving the full notice.

    Our Practice in Central London

    Our comfortable and confidential therapy rooms are conveniently located 3 min walk from Oxford Circus station, in Central London (see map below). Change starts with Talking!

    Learn more:

    Personality Disorders Therapy

    Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in London & Online 

    Depression Counseling in London & Online

    Anxiety Therapy in London & Online

     

    Additional links:

    20 DBT Worksheets and Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills

    A hub of self-help resources for well-being by NHS

     

    References:

    [1] Effectiveness of dialectic behavioral therapy in routine outpatient care: the Berlin Borderline Study

    [2]  Effectiveness and Cost-Effectiveness of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy for Self-Harming Patients with Personality Disorder: A Pragmatic Randomised Controlled Trial 

    [3] Effectiveness of inpatient dialectical behavioral therapy for borderline personality disorder: a controlled trial

    [4] The Potential Utility of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for Reducing Stress and Improving Wellbeing in Cancer Patients in Kolkata

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    We're registered with AXA Health, AXA therapists, AXA counselling, Aviva, Vitality, Cigna, BPS, HCPC, BABCP
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