How Dialectal Behavior Therapy Can Treat Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health disorder that impacts an individual’s ability to regulate their emotions. It’s characterized by difficulty managing moods, behavior, and relationships. It’s a severe mental health condition that disrupts everyday life.
People with BPD may have frequent mood swings, difficulty being alone, and struggle with self-image issues. Other symptoms may include:
- Fear of abandonment
- Intense and unstable relationships
- Identity disturbance
- Self-harming behavior or recurring thoughts of suicidal behavior
- Feelings of emptiness
- Intense or uncontrollable behavior
- Feelings of dissociation
The cause of BPD isn’t fully understood; however, it’s believed that environmental factors like childhood abuse and trauma could be possible causes. Some other studies suggest that genetics and brain abnormalities are linked to BPD.
If you have BPD, you’re not alone. Approximately just less than two percent of the general population struggles with this disorder. Fortunately, there are treatment options available designed to help you manage your condition. Certain therapy modalities, like dialectal behavior therapy (DBT), were created specifically to treat BPD.
What Is Dialectal Behavior Therapy?
DBT is a type of talk therapy that focuses on helping individuals manage their emotions and change destructive behavior. It teaches clients new skills to cope with painful emotions and improve relationships.
According to the National Library of Medicine, traditional DBT helps you build four main skills, which include:
- Mindfulness: Mindfulness is about being aware of the present moment and accepting what’s happening. Instead of worrying about the past or future, you’ll learn how to focus on the present.
- Distress tolerance: This skill teaches you how to manage your emotions and get through difficult moments without turning to self-destructive coping techniques.
- Interpersonal effectiveness: Learning interpersonal effectiveness skills can help you clearly articulate what you want and need while also maintaining boundaries and self-respect.
- Emotional regulation: With BPD, you may feel like you have no control over your emotions. This skill will help you understand and be more aware of your emotions and learn how to manage them.
How Can DBT Treat BPD?
While DBT can treat other mental health conditions, it was originally developed to treat BPD. Traditional DBT includes a combination of group skills training, individual psychotherapy, and phone coaching. These three components work together to teach clients new skills and target symptoms of BPD. However, this structure can also be modified to accommodate different treatment settings.
During group skills training, you’ll be taught skills by a therapist in a group setting. This is designed to manage symptoms associated with BPD. On the other hand, in individual psychotherapy, you’ll have weekly sessions that focus on reducing suicidal and self-destructive behaviors, limiting therapy-interfering behaviors, reaching your goals and improving your quality of life, and learning new skills to replace unhealthy behaviors.
Lastly, some therapists offer phone coaching as a part of DBT. This is where you can receive support from your therapist over the phone in between sessions. These sessions can teach you how to ask for help when you need it and apply the skills you’ve learned during times of crisis.
While BPD can be challenging to treat, DBT provides hope to those struggling with this condition. For many, receiving treatment results in less severe symptoms, which can improve their quality of life. It takes time to reap the benefits of therapy, so it’s important to be patient and stay committed to treatment.
The length of time spent in therapy varies by person and depends on the severity of your symptoms. Some people only stay in therapy for six months to a year; however, mental health conditions like BPD are complex and often require several years of treatment. Even if you don’t feel the positive effects of therapy right away, it’s crucial not to get discouraged. Slow progress is still progress.
Receiving a BPD diagnosis is tough. It takes courage to seek help once you realize something is wrong. Experiencing intense emotions and feeling as though you have no control over them can be scary. Having BPD can impact every part of your life. You may struggle with your self-image, have rapid mood swings, or have a series of intense and unstable relationships. You may also battle with frequent self-harming behavior when dealing with a crisis.
These common symptoms can make it challenging to live a joyous life. Treatment modalities like DBT allow you to receive the help you deserve so that you can learn to manage your symptoms and have a better life.
Sometimes people with BPD struggle to speak up for themselves and ask for the support they need. If this is the case for you, know that when you’re ready, help is available.
While DBT isn’t a cure for borderline personality disorder, it’s an effective form of treatment. Complex mental health conditions like BPD can make you feel very unstable. You may struggle to function and do daily tasks because of rapid mood changes or difficulty regulating your emotions. Your relationships may also be affected by your mental health. Instead of utilizing positive coping methods, you may turn to self-destructive behaviors as a way to deal with your emotional pain. Having BPD might feel scary, but there is hope. At Alter Wellness Care, we can help you treat the symptoms associated with borderline personality disorder. We offer DBT as well as other forms of treatment to ensure you receive the help you need. Our outpatient programs can teach you new skills that will help you learn to cope with difficult emotions and life’s challenges. To learn more, call (866) 311-3510.
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