Treatment & Therapy

How to Begin a Successful Relationship with a BPD Therapist

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BPD therapist relationshipThe relationship between therapists and individuals seeking treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder is an important one. Beginning a successful relationship with a BPD therapist may seem intimidating, but if you know what you’re looking for, it doesn’t have to be.

“The beginnings of therapy relationships can set the stage for the outcome,” said Dr. Charles Swenson in a lecture for the Connecting the Dots series put on by the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder (NEABPD).

With that in mind, it’s no understatement to say that choosing the right therapist and the right Borderline Personality Disorder treatment center is crucial.

Here are some elements to keep in mind when navigating the vast sea of Borderline Personality Disorder therapists that are available to you:

Individualized Care

Dr. Kelly Koerner, who also participated in the lecture, stressed the importance of the BPD therapist giving the individual seeking help a chance to participate in the diagnosis, as an opportunity for self-reflection.

“In the beginning, it’s important for a therapist to sit down and have a genuine heartfelt discussion with the patient about where they struggle, what are they trying, and what is working and what isn’t,” said Koerner.

With that information, the right BPD therapist and BPD treatment center can design a program to meet your needs, one that will grow and change as you do. Find out about the center’s criteria for diagnosis, long-term vs. short-term treatment, how much one-on-one therapy you’ll get vs. group therapy, etc. Your Borderline Personality Disorder is particular to you, and needs to be recognized as such.

Tools for Independence

Do the BPD therapist and the Borderline Personality Disorder treatment center have an exit strategy? Do they have a plan for giving you the tools needed to gradually obtain and maintain your independence, armed with new coping skills? Many centers offer classes for patients who have left the program to help them continue their healing and maintain their new, healthy lifestyle.

Training and Credentials

It’s an absolute necessity that you are aware of the training and credentials of the BPD therapists with whom you’ll be working at whatever Borderline Personality Disorder treatment center you select. Are they skilled and knowledgeable about Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? Are they equipped to diagnose and treat co-occurring disorders, such as substance abuse, eating disorders, or severe depression, with which you might be dealing?

Of equal importance to all of the above is a sense of humanity and empathy between the BPD therapist and the individual seeking treatment. Individuals suffering from the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder have been described as “difficult to work with.” An experienced BPD therapist will have the tool of understanding at his or her disposal, realizing what a drastic change the patient is committing to undergo.

When summing up the importance of empathy in a therapist/patient relationship, Dr. Swenson quoted playwright Henry Miller, “All growth is a leap in the dark without benefit of prior experience.”

Dr. Koerner concurred, “We’re asking our patients to take a real leap. As professionals, we should be mindful of that.”

If you have selected a BPD therapist, follow the link for some things to keep in mind as you prepare to meet with them for the first time.

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