Understanding Agreements in Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based treatment that helps individuals develop skills to cope with emotional dysregulation, improve interpersonal relationships, and enhance their overall quality of life. Agreements play a crucial role in the DBT process, providing a clear framework for clients and therapists to work within during treatment. In this article, we will explore the key agreements involved in DBT, discussing their importance and how they contribute to the success of the therapeutic process.

Therapeutic Relationship Agreements

The therapeutic relationship in DBT is built on a foundation of mutual trust, understanding, and collaboration between the client and the therapist. To facilitate this relationship, several agreements are established to guide the therapeutic process and ensure both parties are committed to the treatment goals. These agreements include the client's commitment to working towards their treatment goals, attending scheduled therapy sessions, and actively participating in group skills training.

Clients are also expected to practice DBT skills between sessions, applying the techniques they learn in therapy to their daily lives. This commitment to practicing and integrating DBT skills is a crucial aspect of the treatment process, as it helps clients build the emotional resilience and coping strategies necessary for lasting change.

Therapists, in turn, agree to provide a supportive and non-judgmental environment, offer validation and encouragement, and maintain a strong focus on the client's treatment goals. By adhering to these agreements, both the client and the therapist create a foundation of trust and collaboration, which is essential for the success of the therapeutic process.

Safety Agreements

Safety agreements are an integral part of DBT, as they help establish a secure and supportive environment for the client to engage in the challenging work of therapy. These agreements often focus on reducing self-destructive behaviors and ensuring the client's well-being throughout treatment. Clients may be asked to agree to refrain from engaging in self-harm, substance abuse, or other harmful behaviors during their therapy.

In cases where a client is experiencing suicidal thoughts or urges, therapists may establish additional safety agreements, such as having the client commit to contacting the therapist or another support person in times of crisis. These agreements help to reinforce the importance of prioritizing safety and self-care throughout the treatment process.

By establishing and adhering to safety agreements, clients demonstrate their commitment to their well-being and the therapeutic process, while therapists reinforce their dedication to supporting and protecting their clients throughout treatment.

Confidentiality Agreements

Confidentiality agreements are critical in establishing trust and openness within the therapeutic relationship. Clients need to feel secure knowing the information they share during therapy sessions will be kept private and confidential. In DBT, therapists agree to maintain the confidentiality of client information within limits established by law and professional, ethical guidelines.

There may be some exceptions to confidentiality, such as situations involving the risk of harm to the client or others, child abuse, or elder abuse. Therapists are required to inform clients of these limits to confidentiality at the beginning of treatment, ensuring that clients are aware of their rights and the therapist's obligations.

By establishing confidentiality agreements, clients can feel more comfortable sharing personal and sensitive information, which is essential for the therapeutic process to be effective. This openness fosters a deeper understanding of the client's experiences and emotions, allowing the therapist to provide more targeted and effective support.


Agreements in DBT serve as the foundation for a successful therapeutic process, ensuring that both clients and therapists are committed to the same goals and expectations. Clients and therapists can work collaboratively towards lasting change and improved mental health by establishing agreements about the therapeutic relationship, safety, and confidentiality. Adhering to these agreements helps to create a supportive and trusting environment, which is essential for clients to effectively engage in the challenging work of therapy and achieve their treatment goals.

The importance of these agreements cannot be overstated, as they contribute to a sense of accountability, safety, and trust within the therapeutic relationship. Clients can feel confident that their therapists are dedicated to their well-being and progress, while therapists can trust that their clients are committed to the treatment process and developing essential skills for emotional regulation and personal growth.

Ultimately, establishing and adhering to agreements in DBT create a strong foundation for the therapeutic process. By understanding and valuing the significance of these agreements, individuals engaged in DBT can maximize their potential for growth and success in treatment. Both clients and therapists can work together to navigate the complexities of emotional and interpersonal challenges, fostering lasting change and a healthier, more fulfilling life.

Grouport Offers Online DBT Skills Groups

Are you seeking an effective way to manage anxiety and reduce emotional suffering? Join our Grouport DBT series by Grouport Therapy and learn new skills to help you live a more fulfilling life.

Our group meets once a week at a scheduled time, and you'll receive access to session links via email after enrolling and paying for the program. By joining our DBT skills group, you can improve relationships, manage anxiety, and reduce emotional suffering, regaining hope for the future.

Don't hesitate to take the first step towards a better life. Our next session is waiting for you. Join our Grouport DBT series today and start improving your mental health alongside a supportive group of individuals.

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