STEPPS  (Systems Training for Emotional Predictability and Problem Solving)

There are currently three versions of STEPPS:

1.  STEPPS:  the Standard version, which is a 20-week group programme for anyone struggling with Emotional Intensity Disorder (the programme's preferred name for 'Borderline personality Disorder').

2. STEPPS-YP:  For young people aged between 16 and 18.  This is an 18-week programme and runs a group for Parents and Carers as a parallel session at the same time as the main group is being held. 

3. STEPPS-EI:  This is a 16 week package for use at Primary Care level, for people who have not yet had a diagnosis formally given to them but who nevertheless struggle with Emotional Intensity Difficulties (rather than 'Disorder').


STEPPS is aimed at providing the person with Emotional Intensity difficulties, the professionals treating them, and close friends and family with a common language to communicate clearly about the disorder and the skills used to manage it.

 STEPPS is facilitated by two trainers skilled in CBT as part of a treatment package, and supplements other psychological therapies.

 The programme is made up of three main components:

 Awareness of Illness

The first step is for group members to replace misconceptions about the Emotional Intensity label with an awareness of the behaviours and feelings that define the disorder. The assumption being that behaviours can be changed and feelings can be managed.

Emotion Management Skills Training

Five basic skills are covered; each aids the person in managing the cognitive and emotional effects of the disorder. The skills assist the group member in predicting the course of an episode, anticipating stressful situations in which the illness is aggravated and building confidence in their ability to manage the disorder.

This is the learning or relearning of patterns for managing areas of behaviour that can break down during emotional intensity. This helps the group member to keep these areas under control during episodes.


After STEPPS, some people may feel they don't need anything else, but others might need a little more time to consolidate the skills and develop them further.   For these people, there is STAIRWAYS.


The name STAIRWAYS is an acronym, each standing for a skill covered in the programme:

  • Setting goals
  • Trying new things
  • Anger management
  • Impulsivity control
  • Relationship management
  • Writing a script
  • Assertiveness training
  • Your choices
  • Staying on track.

It is a one-year group-based programme developed for clients with Emotional Intensity who have completed the STEPPS Programme. Group members will attend one session lasting 90-120 minutes twice monthly.

Several skills from the STEPPS programme are repeated in this course; however, they are covered in more detail, and members will learn new ways to apply the skills. Alongside this, new skills will be taught.

The STAIRWAYS Programme encompasses three main aims:

1) Identifying how the additional skills might help overcome some of the problems participants are still having.

2)  Reinforcing the skills to manage emotional intensity.

3) Applying the new skills to specific goals and challenges in their lives; for example, getting a job, taking a class or expanding their social life.

In essence, STEPPS teaches skills to help those with Borderline Personality Disorder survive, STAIRWAYS helps participants thrive.