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What Is Borderline Personality Disorder Therapy?

Most borderline personality disorder therapy is designed to help patients manage their emotions.
Some people with borderline personality disorder are treated using dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT).
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  • Written By: Marlene Garcia
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 21 August 2014
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Borderline personality disorder therapy commonly uses psychotherapy over a long period of time to help patients cope with daily life. Sometimes medication to control mood swings and suicidal tendencies is prescribed by the psychotherapist until the patient learns to manage his or her emotions. Most borderline personality disorder therapy is focused on teaching the patient tools to control rage and build healthier relationships. One form of therapy delves into the past to help the sufferer understand why he or she reacts inappropriately in certain situations.

Some therapists believe borderline personality disorder therapy is challenging for the doctor and the patient. The disorder often causes the patient to be suspicious of others, and those fears might include the therapist. Patients tend to see people as either friend or foe, and have trouble discerning behavior in a neutral way. Borderline personality disorder therapy is complicated by a patient's inappropriate behavior that sometimes includes anger toward the person trying to help.

At the onset of therapy, the therapist attempts to define goals the patient hopes to reach to improve his or her ability to function. A clear set of written guidelines and expectations often helps the patient and doctor stay on track during borderline personality disorder therapy. Sometimes a contract between the two parties is entered into, with the patient vowing not to attempt suicide, since self-harm is a common symptom of the disorder.

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Those suffering from the condition generally exhibit low self-esteem and fear of being abandoned. They tend to over-react emotionally in situations that involve other people. Persistently difficult relationships are one of the major signs that a person needs therapy.

Therapists often teach the patient different ways to handle conflict in place of anger or over-reacting. The doctor helps the patient find non-destructive ways to cope and change behavior viewed as negative. Dealing with frustration is another critical part of borderline personality disorder therapy that is routinely employed. One form of therapy takes the patient back to childhood to explore any internal conflict that might stem from past experiences.

Anti-anxiety medication is sometimes helpful to control suicidal thoughts or self-mutilation tendencies during initial therapy sessions. Some therapists use drugs to keep the patient calm until he or she is able to utilize healthier coping skills learned in therapy. It is estimated that borderline personality disorder therapy takes at least a year because the patient has commonly used inappropriate coping skills for a long time before seeking help.

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