Process and impact of dialectical behaviour therapy: A systematic review of perceptions of clients with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder

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To identify, appraise, and synthesize findings from qualitative studies of individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder who have experienced dialectical behaviour therapy, to gain further understanding of their perceptions of the process and impact of therapy.


We conducted a comprehensive systematic search of the literature from several online databases, and appraised them using an adapted version of the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme tool. A meta-ethnographic approach was used to synthesize the data.


Seven studies met the criteria to be included and their quality subsequently appraised. Four main themes were identified through the synthesis process: life before DBT; the relationships that support change; developing self-efficacy; and a shift in perspectives.


The findings of the synthesis highlight the importance of a number of key factors in the process of DBT, and the impact that the therapy has both on day-to-day life and on individuals' identity.

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