Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) has become the standard psychological treatment for individuals diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), as it is clinically proven to be one of the most highly effective methods of therapy. DBT is a cognitive behavioral treatment that is relatively versatile and has been used to effectively treat individuals with depression, bulimia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other ailments, along with borderline personality disorder. Ultimately, Dialectical Behavior Therapy has been shown to successfully help individuals develop strong, long-lasting skills to cope with borderline personality disorder and improve day-to-day functioning and social relationships.
Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms
A personality disorder is generally characterized by a deeply ingrained and maladaptive pattern of feelings and behaviors that create long-term difficulties throughout day-to-day life and in personal relationships. Borderline personality disorder is indicated by the following symptoms:
- Feelings of isolation, boredom, or emptiness
- A history of unstable relationships that can abruptly shift from intense feelings of love to extreme hate
- Difficulty feeling empathy
- Intense feelings of anxiety, worry, and depression
- Having a distorted sense of self or unstable or dysfunctional self-image
- A persistent fear of rejection or abandonment, including extreme emotional reactions to real or perceived abandonment
- Intense, highly changeable moods that may last anywhere from a few hours to a few days
- Instability in career plans, goals, and aspirations
- Impulsive, risky, self-destructive, dangerous behaviors that may include things like reckless driving and drug or alcohol abuse
Individuals with BPD typically experience many of these symptoms on a daily basis throughout adulthood. For example, an individual may regularly have intense mood swings, exhibit impulsive behaviors, have unhealthy relationships, and struggle with maintaining a stable job.
Living with Borderline Personality Disorder
Living with Borderline Personality Disorder can be difficult. To those affected by BPD, their maladaptive behavior is both justified and required, filling their days with intense emotional pain, hopelessness, loneliness, anger, and more. As a result, around 80% of individuals with this disorder display suicidal behaviors.
BPD has a major impact on multiple aspects of an individual’s life. It affects:
- Individuals with BPD find it hard to maintain heathy relationships, as a result of arguments, conflicts, and intense mood swings or changes in feelings that can shift hour-to-hour or day-by-day.
- Career/School. BPD often makes regular functioning at work or school difficult, as the associated symptoms often affect relationships with teachers, co-workers, bosses, and other authority figures.
- Physical Health. Living with BPD goes beyond affecting the emotional. It can take a significant tole on physical health. Borderline personality disorder is associated with a multitude of physical conditions, such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, obesity, diabetes, chronic pain, and more. Individuals coping with BPD also tend to exhibit negative lifestyle behaviors, such as smoking, alcohol, and lack of exercise, which subsequently affect their physical health.
- Legal Matters. Some of the behaviors that result from BPD, such as hostility and risky, dangerous behavior, can create legal issues. Individuals with BPD may struggle with aggressive behaviors like assaulting others or damaging personal property, or engage in impulsive behaviors like shoplifting, substance abuse, and other illegal activities.
What Does Dialectical Behavior Therapy Involve?
Dialectical behavior therapy involves learning effective strategies to healthily cope with stress, regulate emotions, and maintain and improve relationships with others, as well as implementing these methods into day-to-day life. Patients do this by developing and using skills such as mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and emotional regulation. Dialectical behavior therapy operates through four different stages:
- Stage 1: This is the foundational stage of the process on which an individual’s success in regulating their emotions and behavior is built. During this stage, our therapists work with clients to better clarify and understand the problematic emotional and behavioral patterns associated with their distress as well as evaluate all factors (biological, environmental, medical, social) that may be contributing to the problematic behavior. The individual will then begin to discover and learn cognitive-behavioral strategies to control the problematic behavior, especially those that are harmful to self or others.
- Stage 2: After developing the skills and tools to more effectively control behavior, our therapists then assist individuals in learning how to express their emotions in a healthy, effective way, rather than suppressing or trying to avoid those emotions. In this stage, the client is encouraged to talk about their emotions, as well as work through any underlying issues, such as traumatic experiences or emotional struggles, that may be contributing to the problematic behavior.
- Stage 3: This stage combines the skills and concepts learned in the previous stages to assist individuals in discovering how to successfully handle and solve real-life problems in a safe and effective way.
- Stage 4: The final stage assists individuals in utilizing all the skills they have acquired to develop the ability to develop and maintain positive, meaningful relationships. Our therapists place a strong emphasis on this stage, as proper communication skills are important.
Schedule A Consultation Today to See How You Or a Loved One Can Benefit From Dialectical Behavior Therapy.
Coping with borderline personality disorder is never easy, which is why our therapists are here to offer our support. Dialectical behavior therapy has continuously been proven to be an effective treatment for BPD, as it allows individuals to better navigate through day-to-day life. You or a loved one do not have to handle this alone, our team can help provide some relief. To see how you or a family member can benefit from dialectical behavior therapy, schedule a consultation at one of our four offices in the Raleigh – Durham area today.