Because Borderline Personality Disorder is the most commonly diagnosed personality disorder, its treatment has received the most rigorous research attention. However, there is evidence that BPD treatments are also beneficial for treating other types of personality disorder. This is a subject of current and ongoing clinical research.
Over recent decades, several models of talking therapy (psychological therapy) have been developed for the treatment of BPD. Clinical research studies have proven their effectiveness in promoting reduced symptom intensity, remission of symptoms, and recovery in people diagnosed with BPD.
Well-established psychotherapy approaches are:
- Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). This includes a combination of individual and group skills training sessions which support development of mindfulness, emotional regulation, self-soothing, and interpersonal effectiveness. Further information about DBT can be found at DBT in a Nutshell by Prof Marsha Linehan.
- Mentalization Based Therapy (MBT). This therapy increases the individual’s ability to reflect on personal internal experiences (feelings, thoughts, urges, memories, beliefs and wishes), as well as learning how to better understand the internal experiences of others. This leads to improved self-understanding and strengthens relationships with others. It also reduces many of the challenging behaviours of BPD. Further information about MBT, developed by Professor Andrew Bateman and Doctor Peter Fonagy, can be found here.
- Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT). This enables the individual to identify chains of events, thoughts, emotions, and motivations, which helps to explain how behaviours such as self-harm and angry outbursts develop, and are maintained. CAT can help identify patterns that may cause problems in relationships between the person with BPD, and others. These patterns may have their origins in childhood and are repeated in later life. For information about CAT, please click here.
- Schema Focused Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (SFT). Schemas are rigid core beliefs that we may hold about ourselves. BPD symptoms can arise due to a pattern of maladaptive schemas that develop in early life. SFT addresses these schemas and the associated emotional, cognitive, and behavioural difficulties. This therapy was developed by Jeffrey Young. Click here to access his website.
- General Psychiatric Management (GPM) and Good Clinical Care (GCC) are generic, evidence-based treatments based on Practice Guidelines for the Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder. They are effective and have long-lasting positive impacts across a broad range of outcomes. GPM and GCC are straightforward to learn and can be readily applied in a variety of mental health settings. Both approaches follow a similar treatment framework. Click here to view Key Treatment Studies.
Role of Medication
Currently, no medications have been approved specifically for the treatment of personality disorder. However, some medications may help reduce the severity of symptoms, or help with co-occurring problems such as depression, impulsiveness, aggression, or anxiety. Medications may include antidepressants, antipsychotics, or mood-stabilising drugs.