Having a friend with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) can be a challenge. On the one hand, you have to deal with their unpredictable mood swings or bursts of anger and, on the other, they can manipulate you through threats of suicide or self-harm.
You may think it’s time for your friend to get BPD treatment to better manage their BPD symptoms. But they may think there’s nothing wrong with them. They may also be afraid of admitting to having a psychiatric disorder that requires treatment.
Even if your friend desperately needs BPD treatment, it’s not a good idea to force them to go for it because that might bring out their worst. If, however, they do express an intention to do something about their disorder, there are ways you can help your friend out:
- Encourage them to get a diagnosis: Chances are that your friend does not yet have a diagnosis. Even though it can be pretty clear from the symptoms that your friend has Borderline Personality Disorder, diagnosis is the first important step toward BPD treatment. It will help practitioners determine whether BPD co-occurs with any other psychiatric disorder and will help them rule out any other diagnosis.
- Give them a pat on the back: Laude your friend’s decision to get BPD treatment. Because people with BPD do not easily opt for therapy, your support will be really important to them. It will be a great boost for your friend’s morale if you can tell them that you’re available for any kind of help they might need at any point during their BPD treatment.
- Become familiar with DBT: Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), developed by Marsha Linehan, is the cornerstone of BPD treatment. One of your major duties as a friend of someone looking for BPD treatment is to look for a BPD treatment center that has DBT-trained therapists. If possible, look for treatment centers whose therapists have received training from Behavioral Tech, Marsha Linehan’s official training institute. You can also familiarize yourself with the skills taught in DBT so that you can help your friend better manage their BPD symptoms.
- Help them choose the right kind of BPD treatment center: A BPD treatment center should ideally include individual and group DBT sessions to help your friend become aware of their emotions and regulate them, life coaching to help them plan their goals and lead a functional life, anger management to help them better manage their anger, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help them examine their thought patterns. A BPD treatment center will create an individualized treatment plan for your friend based on their specific diagnosis. For example, if your friend has depression along with their BPD, the treatment center may prescribe medications and additional therapies to treat depression.
- Stay the course: It is not uncommon for people with BPD to drop out of treatment. They might get discouraged if they do not see any immediate improvement. Be prepared for the times when your friend will threaten to give up on treatment. It will be important for you to listen without judgment. While you should try your best to encourage them to continue with their treatment, if they just don’t want to, you have no choice but to let go.