How to Find DBT Therapists for Borderline Personality Disorder

Where to Find a Dialactical Behavior Therapist

Counselor taking notes with digital tablet during meeting
A counselor taking notes during a meeting. Steve Debenport/Getty Images

DBT therapists are extensively trained to deliver Dialectical Behavior Therapy for borderline personality disorder (BPD) — a unique type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that has been scientifically shown to reduce distressing symptoms of BPD, including self-harm and suicide attempts. 

Let's learn more about how you can locate a DBT therapist. 

What is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy?

Dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT, focuses on teaching behavioral skills like regulating emotions, living in the moment, tolerating distress, and managing relationships with other people.

DBT is done in both individual and group therapy sessions, in addition to phone coaching sessions. 

Resources to Help You Find a DBT Therapist for Your Borderline Personality Disorder

DBT therapists can be hard to come by. However, there are a few resources that may help you with your search.

The best place to begin your search is with the Clinical Resource Directory maintained by Behavioral Tech — an organization founded by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D. to train mental health professionals in DBT. This directory allows you to search for clinicians and programs that have gone through DBT training with Behavioral Tech, LLC, or the Behavioral Research and Therapy Clinics at the University of Washington. The treatment programs can be searched for by state.

You may also want to try the Association for Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies' Find-A-Therapist directory. This database allows you to search for practitioners by name, location, population served, and specialty (there is a "DBT" option under specialty).

This directory also includes international listings.

If these databases are not helpful, try calling departments of psychology or psychiatry at local universities, colleges, or medical centers. Because DBT is an evidence-based approach to treatment, academic training departments will often include practitioners who have been trained in DBT.

Another option is your local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness

In addition, you may try looking up the government agency that addresses mental health needs in your area. This may be the Department of Social Services, Department of Mental Health, or a similar agency. These agencies may know of DBT therapists in your area and may be able to facilitate a referral depending on your needs.

Be Sure To Talk to Your Doctor

It's a good idea to talk with your primary care physician or psychiatrist about your desire to pursue DBT therapy. Your doctor can provide a referral and help confirm whether this is the best therapy approach for you. 

Remember, remain an advocate for your mental health and be sure to choose a therapist that has proper DBT training and credentials. 

Sources:

Chapman A. Dialectical Behavior Therapy: Current Indications and Unique Elements. Psychiatry (Edgmont). 2006 Sep;3(9):62-68.

Feigenbaum, J. Dialectical Behaviour Therapy: An Increasing Evidence Base. Journal of Mental Health. 2007 Feb;16(1):51-68. 

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