Therapy for Borderline Personality

You are loved. You deserve to feel safe, validated, and connected.

We want to help you build authentic relationships.

For people living with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), building genuine, intimate relationships that allow for safety and true authenticity can be a challenge. Many people with BPD desire close relationships, but it’s often difficult to manage intense, inner emotions while also trying to build trust with another person through wholehearted validation and support. As a result, many people experience a great deal of loneliness, lack of belonging, and feelings of being unloved.

You don’t have to struggle alone. It gets better with the right support and guidance. Therapy can help you strengthen your sense of identity and find your place in the world. Through acceptance and skill building, you can move toward greater wellness. We want you to feel wholeheartedly loved, accepted, and appreciated for exactly who you are.

Let’s talk about a personalized treatment plan for you.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a complex mental health condition characterized by pervasive patterns of instability in mood, emotional regulation, self-image, behavior, and interpersonal relationships. People with BPD often experience intense emotions that fluctuate rapidly between extreme highs and lows within a matter of hours or days. They also struggle with chronic feelings of emptiness, fears of abandonment, and difficulties regulating their impulses.

Specifically, people with BPD may feel intense insecurity and fear that their loved ones will leave them. This fear of abandonment can manifest in clingy behavior, push-pull dynamics in relationships, and an overall difficulty in trusting others. It is often a pervasive and overwhelming sense of anxiety that stems from unconsciously rooted fears relating to experiences from childhood abandonment or neglect. This causes many people struggling with BPD to engage in love-hate relationships. They may idealize people, seeing them as perfect, and become intensely attached to them. They may also put specific people on a pedestal, expecting them to meet all their emotional needs, which is impossible for any one person to achieve. This creates an unhealthy dynamic that leads to disappointment, resentment, and feelings of inadequacy. 

In addition, people with BPD also commonly have dysfunctional relationships because they are prone to feelings of anger and jealousy, leading to conflict and frequent fighting with others. There is often a pattern of forming intense relationships that are unstable and turbulent. It’s important to recognize that individuals struggling with BPD are not doing this on purpose, but rather they are struggling to regulate emotions and they are struggling to feel loved, connected, and secure.

Emotional dysregulation is defined as an inability to effectively modulate one’s emotional responses to different situations, often resulting in intense and unpredictable mood swings. People with BPD experience the spectrum of emotions more intensively than others and struggle to regulate feelings effectively. As a result, they may have intense feelings of sadness, anger, shame, or guilt that are out of proportion to the situation or trigger. For instance, a person with BPD may have an explosive outburst over a minor inconvenience or perceive a well-intended comment as intense criticism or rejection. These extreme emotions can be overwhelming for family members and friends of people with BPD, leading them to feel scared, exhausted, and overwhelmed.

People with BPD also typically struggle with identity issues. Lacking a strong sense of who they are. People struggling with BPD often experience a shifting sense of identity and purpose, which can be frustrating and emotionally draining. They may feel disconnected from themselves and struggle to understand who they truly are in relation to the rest of the world. This constant struggle for self-understanding often leads to feelings of emptiness and confusion. When combined with the instability inherent in BPD, a history of traumatic experiences can also have a profound impact on an individual’s sense of self, leading to feelings of alienation and disconnection from normal experiences. This can result in individuals feeling lost, alone, and unsure of their place in the world.

Impulsive behavior in BPD can also manifest in a variety of ways. For example, someone with BPD might engage in impulsive spending sprees, eat compulsively, engage in risky sexual behavior, or even engage in self-harm. These behaviors are often unplanned and occur without any forethought or consideration of consequences. They may provide a temporary relief from the intense emotions that the individual is experiencing, but they can also lead to negative outcomes such as financial problems, physical harm, or strained relationships.

A combination of environmental, neurobiological, and genetic factors may contribute to the development of BPD. Studies have shown that individuals with BPD are more likely to have experienced neglect or abuse during their childhood. These traumatic, chaotic experiences can cause significant emotional stress, especially if they occur during critical periods of development, and can hinder the development of a stable sense of self. Beyond affecting one’s sense of self, an unstable environment can cause someone to develop erratic behaviors out of attempts to gain a sense of control over the environment. Trauma can also lead to difficulties in regulating emotions and inability to trust others. In terms of neurobiological factors, individuals with BPD have been found to have abnormalities in brain structure and function. This can include reduced prefrontal cortex volume and abnormalities in the amygdala and hippocampus, areas of the brain that are associated with emotional regulation and memory. Plus, research has indicated that individuals with a family history of mental health conditions may be more at risk of developing borderline personality disorder.

Most importantly, it’s critical to understand that BPD is a valid condition – NOT a character weakness or personal choice. Unfortunately, there is some social stigma regarding borderline personality disorder. Some people misunderstand the diagnosis and label people with BPD as “attention-seeking” or “irrational,” which only perpetrates harmful myths about mental illness, leading to discrimination and barriers to treatment for people with BPD. At River Oaks Psychology, we actively fight against stigma and promote education on the seriousness of BPD in order to bring light to the very real struggles that people with this disorder experience. With the right guidance and support, individuals living with BPD can learn to manage their symptoms effectively, build healthy relationships, improve their sense of self-worth, and ultimately lead fulfilling lives.

Positive Affirmations for those with BPD

How can therapy help with Borderline Personality Disorder?

Therapy is immensely beneficial for individuals with borderline personality disorder. Through a collaborative and empathetic therapeutic relationship, individuals with BPD can learn to regulate intense emotions, manage impulsivity, and build more stable relationships. Ultimately, the goal of therapy is to help those with BPD identify their unique strengths while equipping them with practical tools to successfully manage the intense thoughts and behaviors associated with the disorder.

Specifically, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based therapeutic approach to helping people successfully manage BPD symptoms. DBT is built on several core principles and techniques that can help individuals develop more effective coping skills and improve their overall quality of life. DBT involves four key components: mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness. These components work together to provide individuals with the necessary skills to manage and regulate their emotions and behaviors, thus improving their relationships and overall well-being.

One of the primary ways that DBT can help individuals with BPD is by teaching them how to recognize and respond to their emotions in a healthy and constructive way. This involves developing skills in mindfulness, such as learning to observe and describe one’s emotions and experiences without judgment. Through the use of mindfulness techniques, individuals with BPD can learn to identify their emotional triggers, recognize patterns in their emotional responses, and develop effective strategies for managing their emotions and responding to stress. DBT also focuses on developing emotion regulation skills, which involve learning to manage intense emotional states and respond to them in a more adaptive way. This may include techniques such as deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery, as well as skills in identifying and challenging negative thoughts and beliefs. By learning to regulate their emotions, individuals with BPD are better able to avoid self-harm behaviors and other impulsive actions.

Distress tolerance is another key component of DBT, which involves learning to cope with unpleasant or difficult emotions and situations without resorting to destructive behaviors. This may involve techniques such as distraction, self-soothing, and radical acceptance, which can help individuals with BPD manage intense feelings of anxiety, anger, or sadness without acting on them in harmful ways. Finally, DBT emphasizes the importance of developing strong interpersonal skills, which can help improve relationships and reduce conflict. This involves learning effective communication skills, such as active listening, assertiveness, and boundary-setting, as well as developing strategies for resolving conflicts and negotiating solutions to problems.

Beyond DBT approaches, attachment therapy is a form of therapy that centers on the attachment style that people have developed through the early years of their life. The therapy aims to repair and strengthen those attachments, leading to improved emotional and behavioral regulation, as well as more stable relationships. This approach has been highly effective for those with BPD, as the nature of the disorder is often related to the attachment style developed in childhood. Attachment therapy also helps individuals with BPD understand the impact of their behavior on others, develop more effective communication skills, and build more secure and supportive relationships. By having more stable relationships, individuals with BPD can develop a better sense of self and feel more secure in their identity.

In some cases, a type of trauma-based therapy called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) can be helpful in treating BPD because individuals with BPD often have a history of trauma or adverse childhood experiences that contribute to their emotional dysregulation and unstable relationships. EMDR aims to help patients reprocess traumatic memories in a safe and controlled environment. By using rapid eye movements or other forms of stimulation to activate the brain’s “processing mode,” individuals can learn to reduce negative feelings and harness more positive ones. This process can also lead to improved self-awareness, allowing individuals with BPD to better understand their behaviors during times of emotional dysregulation or distress.

In addition, the safe, non-judgmental environment of therapy is highly beneficial for managing BPD because it allows for the authentic, self-expression of everyday thoughts and feelings. In a world full of stress and unexpected problems, people need a safe outlet to share their worries, concerns, and fears. Family and friends provide a valuable support system, but they may not have the necessary expertise in BPD to address the unique challenges of this condition. In contrast, a professional therapist has the knowledge, experience, and the necessary skill set to help people manage their BPD symptoms more effectively. If you are loved one is struggling with any symptoms that mirror those of borderline personality disorder, please reach out to us. People would BPD deserve to feel loved, supported, and secure in all aspects of their lives. We consider it an honor and privilege to work with people and their families to make this possible.