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Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board

North Wales Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service



Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)

DBT stands for Dialectical Behaviour Therapy.  It is a therapy that aims to help people who may experience some of the following problems.

DBT has a strong evidence base for helping people to reduce suicidal and parasuicidal behaviours.  However, young people cannot be directly referred to the DBT programme – instead a referral to CAMHS is required and the assessor will be able to decide whether a young person is suitable to be referred to the DBT programme.

If young people are referred to DBT they will be assigned a DBT therapist who will offer approximately 4 – 6 sessions of ‘pre-treatment’.  This stage addresses issues of the young person’s goals, current problems, how DBT can help with these and any motivation issues.  The young person will then be asked to make a commitment to full DBT.  Following this, difficulties are then addressed with the following level of priority:

Although young people in DBT may commonly wish to address issues of past trauma directly, where frequent suicidal and self harming behaviours already occur it is important that these are under control before addressing the trauma directly due to the usual increase in difficult emotions that occurs at the beginning of such work.

Our DBT team currently has 6 therapists who are each only able to give a percentage of their working time to DBT.  Thus, there is sometimes a short wait to be assigned a DBT therapist.

Young people are expected to attend frequent individual sessions and a weekly skills teaching group.  If you are a professional with continued input to a young person receiving DBT then we ask that you support the young person and their families in ensuring that all individual and group sessions are attended.