For decades, treating Borderline Personality Disorder seemed a lost cause for both patients and treatment professionals…until Dialectical Behavior Therapy appeared like a light at the end of a dark tunnel.
Psychiatric inpatient facilities were becoming frustrated and hopeless that an effective way of treating this specific category of patients would be found; the evidence of this hopelessness and frustration can be seen in the still-present stigma we see today in the treatment community. It is ill-founded, I am glad to say. A relatively new, improved, and (most importantly) results-driven therapy designed to address the unique needs of the Borderline Personality Disorder diagnosis has been available and is growing in popularity all across the world.
But why is Dialectical Behavior Therapy working so well for people who were previously so unaffected by typical treatment approaches?
1. DBT was created by someone with Borderline Personality Disorder.
Marsha Linehan, the “queen bee” of BPD treatment, recently released her own memoir relating her experiences and mental health struggles to her lifelong work of developing the dialectical model of DBT. It gave her insight and unprecedented access to the inner workings of emotional suffering and allowed her to design a multi-level set of skills taught through combined methods of individual and group therapy, as well as skills coaching.
DBT Skills are easily taught with handouts and worksheets, while being actively practiced in work, school, and family settings. They are even offered to family members and loved ones for community support.
2. DBT was designed to help chronic suicidality
Suicide rates for Borderline Personality Disorder are higher than most other psychiatric disorders combined. It was vital that a lifesaving technique become available to help counteract the immense mental torture and emotional dysregulation that was leading to loss of life even among young people.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy modules like Distress Tolerance and Mindfulness have the potential to replace the suicidal and parasuicidal behaviors that are seen in so many of those with BPD.
“Emotion regulation skills are also incorporated to allow those with BPD to manage and respond to intense emotions without engaging in harmful or dangerous impulsive acts and instead respond effectively with problem-solving skills. This leads to increased feelings of mastery and confidence, further decreasing feelings of self-hatred and urges to harm oneself.”
Perhaps one of the most fascinating things about Dialectical Behavior Therapy is its ability to apply functional, applicable skills to a wide variety of contexts with relative ease, high benefit, and low cost.
The corporate business community and educational systems are already beginning to integrate DBT Skills like interpersonal effectiveness and mindfulness into their business models with success.
“There remains a need, however, for improved follow-up care for patients leaving inpatient facilities, where a high percentage of people present with Borderline Personality Disorder symptoms.”
Funneling patients into outpatient programs, referring them to qualified specialists, or connecting them with affordable online courses where they can continue to implement the Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills long-term.
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