Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is characterized by instability in emotions, relationships, and behaviors, such as self-injury and suicidal behavior. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is an established intervention for BPD, but there are long waiting times for treatment. This study aimed to explore if a brief internet-delivered DBT skills training program with minimal therapist support is acceptable, that it can be administered, useful, and does not do harm for patients with BPD.
Acceptability was measured through data on recruitment and attrition, utilization of the intervention, reported impulses to drop out, and through ratings on self-injury and suicidality. Participants were interviewed about their experiences of the intervention; analyzed with content analysis.
Twenty patients on the waiting list for treatment at a DBT-clinic were invited and nine female patients (age 19–37 years) volunteered. The participants completed a large part of the intervention, which did not appear harmful since ratings of suicidal and self-harming behavior were similar before and after the intervention. In the interviews, participants stated that they had gained new knowledge and skills to manage situations, e.g. to stop and think before acting. Some even reported decreased levels of self-injury. The time spent on patient contact was short, and some patients reported difficulties to practice on their own and requested more support.
The intervention seems to be acceptable. Future studies should investigate in what ways some BPD patients are more susceptible to internet-delivered skills training than others, and if this intervention could be delivered within a stepped-care model.