Dialectical behavior therapy adapted for suicidal adolescents

Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2002 Summer;32(2):146-57. doi: 10.1521/suli.


We report a quasi-experimental investigation of an adaptation of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) with a group of suicidal adolescents with borderline personality features. The DBT group (n = 29) received 12 weeks of twice weekly therapy consisting of individual therapy and a multifamily skills training group. The treatment as usual (TAU) group (n = 82) received 12 weeks of twice weekly supportive-psychodynamic individual therapy plus weekly family therapy. Despite more severe pre-treatment symptomatology in the DBT group, at post-treatment this group had significantly fewer psychiatric hospitalizations during treatment, and a significantly higher rate of treatment completion than the TAU group. There were no significant differences in the number of suicide attempts made during treatment. Examining pre-post change within the DBT group, there were significant reductions in suicidal ideation, general psychiatric symptoms, and symptoms of borderline personality. DBT appears to be a promising treatment for suicidal adolescents with borderline personality characteristics.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Ambulatory Care
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / therapy*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Family Therapy / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Personality Inventory
  • Psychoanalytic Therapy / methods
  • Suicide, Attempted / prevention & control
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology*