Dynamic Deconstructive Psychotherapy (DDP)


(For resources, this is the publication date. For programs, this is the date posted.)


Upstate Medical University, NY


Dynamic Deconstructive Psychotherapy (DDP) is a 12- to 18-month, manual-driven treatment for adults with borderline personality disorder and other complex behavior problems, such as alcohol or drug dependence, self-harm, eating disorders, and recurrent suicide attempts. DDP combines elements of translational neuroscience, object relations theory, and deconstruction philosophy in an effort to help clients heal from a negative self-image and maladaptive processing of emotionally charged experiences. Neuroscience research suggests that individuals having complex behavior problems deactivate the regions of the brain responsible for verbalizing emotional experiences, attaining a sense of self, and differentiating self from other, and instead activate the regions of the brain contributing to hyperarousal and impulsivity.

DDP helps clients connect with their experiences and develop authentic and fulfilling connections with others. During weekly, 1-hour individually adapted sessions, clients discuss recent interpersonal experiences and label their emotions, while also reflecting upon their experiences in increasingly complex and realistic ways, to start the longer-term process of self-acceptance. Therapists must learn to recognize, understand, and make use of their own intense emotional reactions elicited by clients in order to foster recovery, avoid burnout, and provide novel experiences in the client-therapist relationship that support individuation and challenge clients’ basic assumptions about themselves and others.

Implementers should be licensed therapists (i.e., psychologists, clinical social workers, psychiatrists, marriage and family therapists). Training is required to implement the full model.

Designation as a “Program with Evidence of Effectiveness”

SPRC designated this intervention as a “program with evidence of effectiveness” based on its inclusion in SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP).

Outcomes Reviewed (Overall Quality of Research Rating-scale of 0 to 4)*

1: Symptoms of borderline personality disorder (3.3)
2: Depression (3.5)
3: Parasuicide behaviors (3.0)
4: Heavy drinking (3.4)

Read more about this program’s ratings.


* NREPP changed its review criteria in 2015. This program is a “legacy program,” meaning that it was reviewed under the post-2015 criteria. The evidence for each outcome was reviewed and scored on a scale of 0-4, with 4 indicating the highest quality of evidence and 0 indicating very poor quality of evidence. The overall rating was based on ratings of six criteria: 1) reliability of measures, 2) validity of measures, 3) intervention fidelity, 4) missing data and attrition, 5) potential confounding variables, and 6) appropriateness of analysis. When considering programs, we recommend (a) assessing whether the specific outcomes achieved by the program are a fit for your needs; and (b) examining the strength of evidence for each outcome.

2012 NSSP Objectives Addressed: 

Objective 8.3: Promote timely access to assessment, intervention, and effective care for individuals with a heightened risk for suicide.