Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) was once stigmatized as difficult to treat and impossible to recover from, but studies conducted over the past decade show that is not the case.
In fact, studies show that, with treatment and therapy, those diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder can achieve a full recovery from their BPD symptoms.
Here are the best therapies and BPD treatments used to achieve these results:
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)Those suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder are described as having a “thin emotional skin” and trouble regulating their emotions. Dr. Marsha Linehan, developer of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) — considered to be the leading treatment for BPD — tells her patients, “Your problem is that you don’t know how to regulate yourself, and I can teach you how.”
Dialectical Behavior Therapy is derived from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a therapy that helps people with BPD identify inaccurate perceptions of themselves, of others, and of situations. The difference between DBT and CBT is that, with DBT, patients are shown how to recognize, deal with, and accept situations that cannot be changed using the four DBT skills of mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) describes DBT as “seeking a balance between changing and accepting beliefs and behaviors.” DBT is done using individual therapy sessions, group therapy, diary cards, and phone coaching. Many Borderline Personality Disorder treatment centers, such as Clearview Women’s Center in Venice Beach, Calif., have a team of DBT therapists trained specifically to treat the symptoms of BPD.
Schema TherapySchema Therapy, also known as Schema-focused Therapy, is a blend of elements of CBT and other forms of psychotherapy that deal with patients’ self-image. Through Schema Therapy, patients will learn to identify traumas that occurred in childhood and see how they inform relationships in their current life. This helps those with BPD better understand why they react as they do to certain situations and learn how to overcome destructive behaviors.
A Dutch study conducted by Dr. Josephine Giesen-Bloo and Dr. Arnoud Arntz found that Schema Therapy has a recovery rate of 52 percent over three years, with 70 percent showing significant relief from Borderline Personality Disorder symptoms.
Family TherapyAs Borderline Personality Disorder is characterized by stormy relationships and an inability to bond with others, it is imperative that people with BPD learn to form more stable relationships with others. Part of effective treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder is teaching loved ones and family members how to better communicate and bond with those with BPD.
It can be difficult not to vilify a loved one with BPD, or dismiss their reactions as coming from bad motives. Family therapy can help people with Borderline Personality Disorder understand and regulate their reactions as well.
“The idea is to validate the person’s emotional reactions, to say, ‘I understand how you feel,’ to pay attention, not to the situation, but to the emotion behind it,” says Dr. Linehan.
Many Borderline Personality Disorder treatment centers offer therapy for friends and family members of patients.
Holistic TherapiesIn addition to these more mainstream therapies, some Borderline Personality Disorder treatment centers offer holistic therapies as part of an individualized recovery plan. Yoga, meditation, exercise, therapeutic massage, and acupuncture can all supplement psychotherapy in keeping the body healthy along with the mind.
Individualized TherapyThe best plans of attack as far as therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder are the most individualized ones, particularly due to the fact that those diagnosed with BPD more often than not deal with co-occurring disorders such as substance abuse, depression, PTSD, or an eating disorder.
About 2 percent of the population meets the criteria for a BPD diagnosis, most of whom self-harm and 10 percent of whom will, tragically, successfully complete suicide. Studies show that, with proper Borderline Personality Disorder treatment, this doesn’t have to be the case. It’s just a matter of finding the right BPD therapies to recover from the symptoms of BPD and live a more fulfilling life.