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Dialectic Behaviour Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder

People with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) often face difficulty with emotional regulations. As the onset of Borderline Personality Disorder is childhood emotional neglect, harsh parenting or abusive caregivers, individuals with BPD often struggle with regulating an intense fear of abandonment, leading to difficulty in maintaining a stable relationship. Childhood emotional neglect also leads to weak identity formation, resulting in poor self-esteem, which confuses their goals and career plans.

There are several researched and validated psychotherapy models for helping people with BPD, and one of them is Dialectic Behaviour Therapy (DBT). Originally designed to treat people with BPD, DBT is a form of cognitive behavioural therapy developed by Marsha Linehan to enhance healthy functioning by changing thoughts, beliefs, behaviours and actions to reduce symptoms. The focus is to help people learn and apply skills to manage their emotions and have healthier ways of coping with strong emotions. DBT usually includes both individual and group sessions, classroom training and coaching. There are four main types of skills learned in DBT:

  1. Mindfulness Skills – Mindfulness refers to helping a person stay conscious and focused on the present moment. Triggers from a traumatic experience often cause a person to lose awareness of the present moment, resulting in panic attacks. DBT-trained therapists teach mindfulness skills to help their clients observe and descript their present experiences, thus reducing the triggers.

  2. Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills – DBT-trained therapists work with their clients to effectively enhance communication and express needs. These skills will help to reduce and manage relationship-related conflicts.

  3. Distress Tolerance Skills – DBT-trained therapists helps their clients to build various skills that will help them to cope with stressors. The aim is to improve positive coping skills and reduce negative coping skills such as self-harm and addictive behaviours.

  4. Emotional Regulation Skills – DBT-trained therapist works with their clients to develop the skills to recognize and regulate their emotions without resorting to numbing or dissociation.

DBT does not eliminate BPD but helps people with BPD significantly reduce the symptoms, which increases coping skills. DBT is also extensively used in the context of in-person treatment and as a compliment to trauma therapists like EMDR. Some people with BPD attend the DBT skills training while work on healing their traumatic experience with an EMDR therapist for accelerated growth.

Restoring Peace Counselling & Consultancy offers DBT and other treatments for personality disorders like BPD. For more information, please visit or WhatsApp us at +65 8889 1848.

Keywords: Singapore, private mental health clinic, therapy, counselling, therapist, dialectic behavioural therapy, borderline personality disorder, treatment

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