Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a mental illness characterized by intense emotions, unstable relationships, and impulsivity. Those with BPD often grapple with a profound fear of abandonment and may exhibit self-destructive behaviors such as drug addiction or self-harm.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about 1.4% of the adult U.S. population experiences BPD. Given its prevalence, there’s a pressing need for accurate diagnosis and treatment. Fortunately, with the rise of BPD online therapy, help is more readily available than ever before.
This article will delve into the specifics of online BPD therapy, setting expectations, and offering guidance on how to prepare, so you can make an informed decision about your therapeutic journey.
Table of Contents
What is BPD Therapy?
Treatment for BPD focuses on alleviating symptoms and enhancing daily functioning. The most effective approach is psychotherapy. This helps individuals develop coping skills and new strategies for managing emotions and building relationships. To maximize the treatment’s effectiveness, it’s beneficial to set specific goals, targeting one area at a time. Some typical areas for goal-setting include:
- Monitoring self-harming behavior
- Managing your emotions and reactions
- Enhancing the ability to tolerate stress
- Improving relationships
How Effective is BPD Therapy?
A 27-year study on patients with BPD highlighted that the majority exhibited significant improvement after treatment. While psychotherapy is the primary treatment for BPD, the specific technique can differ based on individual needs.
The core objective of these treatments is to equip patients with the skills to handle and manage their condition. Here are six therapeutic approaches your therapist may consider:
1. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
This technique combines group and individual therapy. It focuses on teaching skills for emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and relationship enhancement. Typically, DBT involves:
- Weekly one-on-one sessions
- Group training
- Homework assignments.
Online BPD therapy also allows phone support from the therapist when necessary.
2. Schema-focused Therapy
This therapy is offered either individually or in a group setting and aims to pinpoint unmet needs that have resulted in harmful life patterns. By revisiting past situations that left negative imprints, Schem focus works to transform these ingrained schemas. The therapy guides individuals toward cultivating healthier thoughts and behavior patterns.
3. Mentalization-based Therapy (MBT)
MBT assists individuals in recognizing their thoughts and emotions in real time, offering alternative viewpoints. The therapy prioritizes reflective thinking over impulsive reactions. The core belief of MBT is that individuals with BPD primarily struggle with understanding others, which hinders the development of stable relationships.
4. Systems Training for Emotional Predictability and Problem-solving (STEPPS)
The STEPPS program is a comprehensive 20-week group therapy, extending into a year-long bi-monthly continuation phase. It uniquely involves patients’ personal networks to bolster treatment efficacy. Focused on skill-building in managing emotions and behaviors, STEPPS complements existing therapies. Groups of 6-10, led by two trained facilitators, offer a collaborative space for practicing cognitive-behavioral techniques, aiming to improve emotional regulation, interpersonal skills, and overall stability.
5. Transference-focused Psychotherapy (TFP)
TFP is designed to help individuals comprehend their emotions and interpersonal challenges by nurturing the relationship between the patient and therapist. Its primary focus is on addressing instances where an individual projects their own feelings or anticipations onto others.
6. Good Psychiatric Management
This method seeks to understand challenging emotional instances by examining the interpersonal context behind emotions. The approach might incorporate medications, group sessions, family education, and individual therapy.
When Should You Consider Online BPD Therapy
While anyone can develop BPD, those with a family history of the condition are more susceptible. Additionally, individuals with mental health issues like anxiety, depression, or eating disorders have a higher risk.
A study indicated that people with BPD have a markedly increased risk of suicide, underscoring the importance of accurate and timely diagnosis. It’s vital to recognize the signs, as symptoms can range in severity from mild to severe.
Keep an eye out for these indicators:
- Intense Fear of Abandonment
Individuals with BPD often experience acute fear when they perceive abandonment or neglect. They may respond by closely monitoring their loved ones’ movements, attempting to prevent them from leaving. This can also prevent them from ending an unhealthy or abusive relationship.
- Impulsive Behaviours
Individuals with BPD often exhibit impulsivity, leading to risky behaviors and hasty decisions. Some of these behaviors can include:
- Impulsive purchasing
- Rash driving
- Binge eating
- Sex addiction
- Substance abuse
- Anger Issues
Individuals with BPD often undergo abrupt shifts in their perceptions of others, themselves, and their environment. Their attempts to control situations might involve threats, impulsive actions, or frequent aggression. Confronting them can increase their distress or injure their feelings, prompting further aggressive behavior.
- Turbulent Relationships
Individuals with BPD often exhibit rapid and drastic shifts in their perceptions of others. Such shifts contribute to turbulent friendships, marriages, and familial relationships. Viewing things in absolutes further complicates their life experiences.
Here’s a video that delves into how to manage a relationship with a BPD partner:
- Distorted Sense of Self
Individuals with BPD frequently grapple with a muddled self-perception, feeling guilt or shame and viewing themselves negatively. Their self-image can shift rapidly, leading to sudden changes in goals, views, careers, or friendships. They are prone to undermining their own life, and their self-esteem often relies on others’ perceptions of them.
Benefits of Online Therapy for BPD
Online therapies and BPD groups have become valuable alternatives to traditional in-person therapy. When it comes to treating BPD, virtual therapy offers numerous benefits for patients.
Online therapy for BPD offers a degree of anonymity and privacy that can be reassuring, particularly for individuals who might feel embarrassed about seeking treatment. With no waiting rooms or face-to-face encounters with therapists, intimidation related to therapy is reduced. This added layer of privacy can motivate more people to pursue the help they require.
2. Better Post-therapy Care
This model significantly reduces the likelihood of interruptions in treatment due to circumstances like moving to a new area or traveling for work. Such continuous care is especially crucial for managing BPD, which requires consistent therapeutic engagement. Maintaining contact with a therapist is also beneficial for individuals to handle any side effects from treatment effectively, which is essential for preventing relapse and ensuring sustained stability.
Online BPD therapy provides the convenience of flexible scheduling, particularly in the case of group sessions. These sessions often offer multiple time slots to cater to diverse time zones and individual preferences. Such flexibility empowers clients to select the most convenient time, simplifying the integration of therapy into their daily routines.
4. Better Personal Insights
Your environment is a critical factor in BPD. Online therapy offers the opportunity to share your home environment with your therapist, potentially offering valuable insights for your treatment.
5 Ways To Prepare For Your Appointment
Preparing for your initial meeting with a BPD therapist can be approached in several ways. Here are five essential steps to take before your first BPD online therapy session:
1. Make a note of your symptoms: Create a list of the BPD symptoms you suspect you may have. If comfortable, seek input from friends and family members in compiling this list. Discuss these concerns with your therapist during your first session.
2. Reflect on your past: Jot down any pivotal life events from your past that you believe could have profoundly influenced your mental health. Sharing this information will assist your therapist in understanding the context of your condition.
3. Keep a record of your medical reports: Your therapist might inquire about any existing medical conditions you have or medications you may currently be taking. Providing this information will help them tailor your treatment effectively.
4. Prepare questions: Prepare a list of questions to ask your BPD therapist about your current condition and future progress. Having your questions ready will ensure a productive and informative session.
5. Understand different treatments: Various BPD treatments are available, and taking the time to research them will enhance your understanding of what aligns with your needs. Engaging in discussions with your therapist will enable you to identify the most suitable solution for your therapeutic journey.