Treatment Goals for Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is characterized by extreme emotions, unstable relationships and a distorted self-image. When you have this condition, your frequent mood swings, fear of abandonment and impulsiveness may push others away. You often feel your emotions intensely, and when you experience an emotionally upsetting experience it can be hard for you to calm down. You see things in black and white terms, and you may have chronic feelings of emptiness.
Treatment goals for BPD are aimed at reducing symptoms and improving your ability to function. Psychotherapy or talk therapy is the most effective form of treatment for this condition. Medication may be prescribed to stabilize mood swings or coexisting conditions such as depression, but medication alone can’t help you learn new coping skills or practice new methods of managing your emotions or relating to others.
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Setting Goals in BPD Treatment
It can be helpful to set goals that focus on working on one area at a time. Some areas in which treatment goals may be set include:
- Controlling self-harming behavior
- Managing your emotions
- Increasing your ability to tolerate distress
- Improving your relationships
Controlling Suicidal or Self-Harming Behavior
The intensity of the symptoms of BPD can lead to recurrent suicidal threats or self-harming behavior. These symptoms have to be brought under control before any other goals are set for treating other aspects of your condition.
Throughout treatment, your mental health providers will continually assess and monitor any indication that you are having suicidal thoughts or feelings, or that you’re harming yourself in any way. These symptoms may be treated with medication or hospitalization so that you can become more stable and begin to work on other goals.
Managing Your Emotions
Turbulent emotions can cloud your thinking and can impact many different aspects of your life. The tendency toward black and white thinking can make it very difficult for you to trust your therapist or other members of your treatment team. This makes learning to manage stormy emotions an important goal in treating BPD.
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is the best type of therapy for treating BPD, and distress tolerance skills are a big part of DBT. Impulsivity is one of the destructive symptoms of BPD, often leading to impulsive or reckless behavior such as substance abuse, violence or aggressive driving. Out-of-control emotions are often the trigger that sets off this type of behavior.
Practitioners who specialize in DBT can help you learn and practice the skills needed to improve your ability to tolerate turbulent emotions that set off impulsive behavior. With the help of your therapist and group skills training classes, you’ll be able to set treatment goals for working on distress tolerance skills such as self-soothing and focusing on pros and cons.
Improving Your Relationships
One of the symptoms of BPD is having many intense and unstable relationships. In your relationships with friends and family, you may swing back and forth between two extremes. At times you idealize your loved one and feel very close to him or her, then you go to the opposite extreme, which is extreme anger or dislike.
DBT offers important skills to help you to set goals for improving relationships. With practice, you can get better at listening to others and validating their feelings while validating your own experience. You may also need to work on your ability to be honest and fair to other people while still sticking to your own values.
The symptoms of BPD can be overwhelming, but it’s a treatable condition. By working with your therapist and support groups, it’s possible to attain your treatment goals.
If you or a loved one are struggling with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or another mental health disorder, please contact us at (855) 409-0204 or submit the form below and a treatment specialist will contact you.
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Since 2004, Lori has worked with the behavioral health treatment community to bring awareness about mental health disorders and evidence-based treatments. Lori strives to help people better understand mental illness and provide support to those needing help and their families. As a mental health advocate, Lori works to be a voice for those suffering from borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety, trauma, or any other disorder.