Q: How do I get my borderline loved one in therapy? What’s the best kind of therapy? How long will it take to cure them?
A: Unless your borderline loved one is a minor or you have a court order, you can’t force anyone into therapy. Therapy must be a choice of the person that needs it. It will probably be much more effective if the person with BPD chooses to go to therapy. Yet, therapy is not like sending your car in for repairs. It’s not as if you send the person in to therapy, he/she gets a new part and comes out fixed. That’s not the way therapy works.
For BPD, the “gold standard” of therapy is Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT). It is an “evidence-based” treatment – meaning the therapy has been researched against “therapy as usual” (TAU) and been shown to be more effective than TAU. However, DBT is generally measured on reducing suicidal impulses and self-harm. DBT has been criticized for being most effective with the “lowest functioning” people with BPD. I personally like DBT in that it provides the borderline with essential skills that can make their lives more effective. DBT usually takes at least a year. It took my daughter two years to complete. For more on DBT from this blog, click here. It is also important to note that, in many circumstances, the family members can be more effective if they participate in the DBT treatment by learning the necessary skills to support the treatment.
Recently, a new treatment called Mentalization-Based Treatment (MBT) has come on to the scene – particularly in the UK. I only know of two places in the US that MBT is available. Mentalization-based therapy focusing on the skill of “mentalizing” and is an interactive therapy in which the moment-to-moment relationship between the client and the therapist helps encourage critical, integrative thinking. Mentalizing is a process and it requires participation of each person in a particular conversation. One must try to see the world through the other’s eyes and clearly express one’s own mental aspects including intent, desire, motivation, feelings and aspirations. For more on MBT on this blog, click here.
There are other therapies that can be effective with BPD including schema-focused therapy, STEPPS and transference-focused therapy.
Both DBT and MBT are quite expensive at this time.