Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD is a psychological disorder characterised by difficulties with self-regulating emotions. It expresses itself in a range of behaviours such as intense sensitivity to perceived rejection, feelings of overwhelming worthlessness or anger, or a tendency to self-harm for example. It is extremely distressing to the individual affected, as they can oscillate between moods with little control, with great costs to their relationships.
The causes of BPD are not entirely understood, but the consensus is that it results from a combination of genetic and environmental factors and that it appears during early adulthood often including trauma, either as an adult or a child. The symptoms can range from mild to severe, but with adequate treatment, patients can considerably reduce the effect that BPD has on their life.
How to Treat It
Different branches of therapies are effective in treating BPD, all based on making you understand your feelings better, why you may be reacting to certain situations, and over time, helping you regain a sense of control over your emotions as well as changing your behaviours and attitudes.
A long-term form of therapy such as psychotherapy is often better suited, and can be delivered by a psychiatrist or a psychologist. It is important, however, that they have experience with treating BPD.
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy
Specifically designed to treat BPD, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy or DBT is particularly successful. Its core belief is that patients developed Borderline Personality Disorder because of having their feelings dismissed during their childhood, which caused them to feel worthless for having such feelings, rather than being taught how to manage them.
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy’s goal is to affirm that their feelings are valid and acceptable, while introducing the concept of a more nuanced perception of the world, as people suffering from BPD tend to see things in ‘black or white’.
For example, a DBT therapist could acknowledge that your intense feelings of sadness causing you to self-harm are understandable given your history, that it doesn’t make you an awful person, BUT that there may be healthier ways to cope with your emotions.
Patients with BPD also often have a reduced ability to assess whether their thoughts and beliefs are based on reality and can therefore act impulsively, with unwanted consequences. Mindfulness-based therapies, which focus on becoming aware of thought processes, can help with developing greater awareness of impulsive behaviours, and teach patients to step back.
It will also help them to recognise that other people have their own thoughts and needs, that their perception of other people’s motivations isn’t necessarily correct, and to be more aware of the impact of their actions on others.
How Can the Robert Street Clinic Help?
The Robert Street Clinic is a practice counting highly-skilled and experienced DBT therapists in Auckland. Our team of psychotherapists and psychiatrists are specialised in delivering Dialectical Behaviour Therapy and can help you manage and improve your condition.
If you think that you, or a loved one, need help with Borderline Personality Disorder, contact us or call us on 09 973 5950 for non-judgmental and professional advice.