Objective: To provide an overview of non-pharmacological interventions for behavioural and psychological symptoms in dementia (BPSD). Design: Systematic overview of reviews. Data sources: PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, CINAHL and PsycINFO (2009–March 2015). Eligibility criteria: Systematic reviews (SRs) that included at least one comparative study evaluating any non-pharmacological intervention, to treat BPSD. Data extraction: Eligible studies were selected and data extracted independently by 2 reviewers. The AMSTAR checklist was used to assess the quality of the SRs. Data analysis: Extracted data were synthesised using a narrative approach. Results: 38 SRs and 142 primary studies were identified, comprising the following categories of non-pharmacological interventions: (1) sensory stimulation interventions (12 SRs, 27 primary studies) that encompassed: acupressure, aromatherapy, massage/touch therapy, light therapy and sensory garden; (2) cognitive/emotion-oriented interventions (33 SRs; 70 primary studies) that included cognitive stimulation, music/dance therapy, dance therapy, snoezelen, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, reminiscence therapy, validation therapy, simulated presence therapy; (3) behaviour management techniques (6 SRs; 32 primary studies) and (4) other therapies (5 SRs, 12 primary studies) comprising exercise therapy, animal-assisted therapy, special care unit and dining room environment-based interventions. Music therapy was effective in reducing agitation (SMD, −0.49; 95% CI −0.82 to −0.17; p=0.003), and anxiety (SMD, −0.64; 95% CI −1.05 to −0.24; p=0.002). Home-based behavioural management techniques, caregiver-based interventions or staff training in communication skills, person-centred care or dementia care mapping with supervision during implementation were found to be effective for symptomatic and severe agitation. Conclusions: A large number of non-pharmacological interventions for BPSD were identified. The majority of the studies had great variation in how the same type of intervention was defined and applied, the follow-up duration, the type of outcome measured, usually with modest sample size. Overall, music therapy and behavioural management techniques were effective for reducing BPSD.