Been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD)? Or feel you have many of the symptoms, and are curious what therapies would work best for you?
Borderline personality disorder has as a core symptom a fear of abandonment. This causes you to constantly have problems in your relationships. You will be overreactive and dramatic, push and pull, have a tendency to manipulate, be mean if you feel rejected, and you might suffer paranoia and anxiety.
Therapy is at heart a relationship. So all of these behaviours are bound to play out in the therapy room. And because each type of therapy approaches the therapeutic relationship differently, some might trigger you more than others.
Here are five therapies recommended if you have borderline personality disorder. Some were even created with borderline clients in mind, and directly focus on helping you manage your BPD symptoms.
DIALECTICAL BEHAVIOUR THERAPY
DBT is unique in that it was designed specifically for clients with BPD — the creator even admitted she had it herself. The goal of this highly structured therapy is to help you feel balanced, and to show you how to make decisions that mean you find yourself living a life you feel good to be in.
It can be done one-on-one, but DBT is most often a form of group therapy, or blended, with both group and individual sessions.
You’ll find yourself learning how to regulate and navigate your emotions, accept your life as it is, and how to ask for what you need and set boundaries in relationships.
This therapy was created by a psychotherapist who recognised that some clients did not do well with normal therapy, most often those who were classified as having disordered personalities.
Schema therapy focuses on recognising and changing the unhelpful patterns of behaviour that run through your life, that cause the same theme to play out. An example is abandonment, where you believe everyone will leave you so overreact to protect yourself.
Schema therapy also uses ‘limited reparenting’. This is a closer than usual therapeutic relationship (although still with boundaries), where the therapist stands in for the trustworthy parent you didn’t have.
MENTALISATION BASED THERAPY (MBT)
This is yet another therapy designed specifically to help those with borderline personality disorder, and can be done in a group or one-on-one.
It focuses on the skill of ‘mentalising’, how to know know what others think and feel. People with borderline personality think they understand people better than most, but actually instead tend to make assumptions and react to those assumptions, often only to learn they got things wrong.
The idea is to help to differentiate from the world in your head and the world actually in front of you. By learning better ways to understand others, you’ll start to react less.
COGNITIVE ANALYTICAL THERAPY
This short-term therapy also focuses on behavioural patterns, and on a strong client-therapist relationship.
It focuses exclusively on relating patterns, helping you notice the way you communicate, your responses to others, and how these things affect your life.
You can try out new patterns of communicating and relating in the therapy room, where a strong bond of trust is focused on.
COGNITIVE BEHAVIOURAL THERAPY (CBT)
It can help you if you have borderline personality disorder because it will train you to automatically question your thoughts. With time and practise you can catch assumptions before, and not after, you react and upset others.
You don’t have to talk much about your past and childhood in cognitive behavioural therapy. The focus is on the here and now, and helping you troubleshoot current situations.