Counselling for Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is also known as Emotional Dysregulation Disorder. It has been proposed that  personality disorder is best understood as disorganisation of the capacity for regulating emotions. This means that one can sometimes experience emotions as spiraling out of control, overwhelming, and changing rapidly.

The most common thread amongst Borderline Personality Disorder individuals is the inability to maintain a relationship. Since sufferers are emotional and impulsive, they often lack the social skills to have deep and meaningful relationships. They also often suffer from a very poor self-image, which can manifest itself in promiscuous behaviour, substance abuse or other addictions. 75% of those diagnosed are female.

Counselling or psychotherapy is nearly always the treatment of choice for BPD. Medication is typically only provided to help stabilise mood swings. Therapy can be a long process but it can help sufferers to get a better understanding of their thoughts and feelings. Treatments that include psychotherapy, medications and/or group therapy show promising outcomes.

One of the most effective methods of treating emotional dysregulation is dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT. DBT is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy in which patients are taught skills and strategies for managing emotions, handling conflict, and building tolerance for uncomfortable feelings.

DBT focuses on the concept of mindfulness, or paying attention to the present emotion. DBT teaches skills to control intense emotions, reduce self-destructive behavior, manage distress, and improve relationships. It seeks a balance between accepting and changing behaviors. This proactive, problem-solving approach was designed specifically to treat BPD. Treatment includes individual therapy sessions, skills training in a group setting, and phone coaching as needed. DBT is the most studied treatment for BPD and the one shown to be most effective.

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, or DBT, is an effective skills based BPD treatment. Clients are given homework to complete between sessions to develop skills to manage their emotions and reduce impulsivity. After some practice managing emotional regulation, this is followed by examining any trauma that could aggravate BPD symptoms.