All About Dependent Personality Disorder and How to Overcome it with Psychological Therapy & Counselling


What is Dependent Personality Disorder?

Dependent Personality Disorder is a mental health disorder characterised by an ongoing psychological dependence on other people.

DPD tends to be a long-term condition in which people depend excessively on others to meet their physical and emotional needs with very few sufferers ever achieving full independence.

Dependent personality disorder is normally accompanied by excessive fear and anxiety and frequently leads to high levels of submission, passivity and helplessness which can place enormous strains on the quality of any intimate relationships.

As with all psychiatric disorders, the actual biological causes remain unknown and are yet to be identified.

However, there does seem to be evidence that early childhood adversities, particulary related to the nature of their attachments with caregivers, may lead to high levels of dependence.


Dependent Personality Disorder Symptoms

There are several symptoms associated with Dependent Personality Disorder and diagnosis of DPD usually requires the concurrent experiencing of at least 5 of them, including:

  • Difficulty making everyday decisions without external validation and reassurance from others – (fear of making decisions).
  • Relinquishing of responsibility for most aspects of their lives.
  • Fear of disagreeing with others to minimise possible loss of support.
  • Lack of self-belief.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • A preparedness to do unpleasant tasks to obtain nurturance.
  • Learned helplessness.
  • Fear of being alone due to lack of belief in own abilities.
  • May enter into new relationships very quickly after others break-up in order to maintain care and nurturance.
  • Preoccupied with thoughts of being left to take care of themselves.

All of these symptoms or behaviours can be seen across normal populations but those with a dependent personality disorder experience them to such a degree that normal functioning is difficult.

Psychiatric Diagnosis for Dependent Personality Disorder

Diagnosis of Dependent Personality Disorder

Technically, only a psychiatrist can diagnose a Dependent Personality Disorder, but in the UK general practitioners have tended to diagnose mental health problems by using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

The DSM lists specific symptoms against a range of disorders and whenever a person meets this criteria, they are said to be suffering from that disorder.

A diagnostic procedure does NOT make use of medical testing (for example blood tests) in order to produce a diagnosis, but rather is an opinion based on the observation of certain behaviours in the person who is suffering.

Because of this lack of verifiable medical testing, diagnosis remains a controversial subject, particularly within the psychological (non-medical) community.

However, in the UK access to support services is often contingent on receiving a diagnosis, so in this sense, a formal diagnosis may be useful.

Dependent Personality Disorder sufferer in therapy session

Counselling for Dependent Personality Disorder

We offer a number of different types of therapy and counselling for Dependent Personality Disorder and related problems.

Choosing the most suitable therapy depends on a number of different considerations including factors such as:

  • How long you have had the problem.
  • Your personal preferences.
  • How your problem is affecting you today.

You can read more about the different types of therapy for Dependent Personality Disorder on the following links:

Although all therapies use slightly different approaches, the one thing they all have in common is the relationship that is formed between the client and therapist.

Research suggests that this therapy relationship may be the most important factor in achieving a good therapy outcome.

The behaviour change framework

The Behaviour Change Framework

All of our counselling sessions and programmes use the Behaviour Change Framework (BCF).

This scientifically proven protocol defines the stages of behaviour change that you need to go through in order to achieve long lasting and sustainable change.

The framework provides a roadmap that indicates if more change is required before entering the next phase of therapy.

In this way, we are able to ensure that you get the best possible level of support in overcoming your mental health problems as well preventing early termination of therapy.

You can read more about the Science of Change here.

Free initial consultations for Dependent Personality Disorder

Arrange your FREE initial consultation here.

If you’d like to find out more about Dependent Personality Disorder or recovering from any of your mental health problems then why not arrange a free initial consultation with us.

During this consultation we will discuss your particular issues and the different types of mental health counselling we offer (including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – CBT) without you having to commit to any counselling going forward.

The consultation lasts around 50 minutes and is a great opportunity to meet with either Paul or Joan and decide if you would like to proceed with any support.

Getting a Mental Health Diagnosis

Please be aware that Lee Psychology do not diagnose mental health disorders.

Our psychological counselling services do not require you to have been formally diagnosed but should you wish to obtain a formal mental health diagnosis, then please contact your GP who can arrange it for you.

Psychiatry Through the Looking Glass

Read what the World Health Organisation (W.H.O.) and the United Nations (U.N.) said recently about the biomedical models of mental illness on Psychology Today.

W.H.O. and U.N. Join Calls to Transcend the Medical Model


Applied Psychology Solutions

If you’d like to learn how to overcome Dependent Personality Disorder but dislike the idea of having “therapy”, then why not learn how to change the way you make sense of your experiences with the CORE Programme.

If you believe that your problems are the result of what has happened to you and not because there is something wrong with you, then this is the solution you’ve been looking for.

Not Ready to Commit to Therapy Quite Yet?

Then why not see if you can solve your own problems using our comprehensive, Online Self-Help CBT course.


Written especially for people who prefer not to engage with a therapist before doing everything they can to overcome their problems.

Mirroring our in-house course of CBT, it contains everything that you need to know to tackle mental health challenges for only £149.

Counselling Locations

We offer counselling for Dependent Personality Disorder problems for people living in:

  • Wombourne
  • Wolverhampton
  • West Midlands
  • Shropshire
  • South Staffordshire
  • Telford
  • Shrewsbury

You can also access our services around the World using online therapy with Paul.