My 22-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) earlier this year. My husband and I know that she needs to get BPD treatment, but she refuses to go. We have spent so much time arguing with her about it and trying to convince her, but nothing we say seems to work. We know we can’t force her to get BPD treatment against her will. What can we do?
Alina Gorgorian, Ph.D., clinical director of Clearview Women’s Center for Borderline Personality and Emotional Disorders in Los Angeles, offers two ways to help your daughter get needed BPD treatment:
The first is through validation. Instead of trying to convince your daughter that she needs BPD treatment, let her know that you understand that she is going through a difficult time and that you want to help her.
“Let your daughter know that you understand the difficulty of what she’s going through and that you know this is a difficult time for her emotionally,” Gorgorian says. “Let her know you’ve learned about BPD treatment and that it can help her change some things that are interfering with the quality of her life. Let her know that you’re willing to look at your role in the problem and are willing to also get help.”
People with Borderline Personality Disorder often feel invalidated by their families because the finger is always pointed at them. They often feel as though the people around them don’t understand them and what they are experiencing.
Making your daughter feel validated instead of approaching her diagnosis as a problem that needs fixing can be the turning point for encouraging her to enter BPD treatment.
Stop Reinforcing Ineffective Behaviors
Though this may be difficult for you to do as a parent, one of the best methods for getting your daughter into BPD treatment is learning which behaviors to reinforce and which behaviors not to reinforce.
“Be careful not to reinforce ineffective behaviors such as not getting out of bed by continuing to provide a luxurious lifestyle,” Gorgorian says. “As difficult as it may be, you may have to withdraw some privileges until she earns them back. Such privileges can include the car, computer, or anything that continues to reinforce her behavior. Not doing so will give your daughter no reason to change her behaviors.”
Continuing to provide your daughter financial support when she is acting out will likely make her unmotivated to change her behaviors. While this may feel as though you are manipulating your daughter or watching her fall, not helping her pay rent or for school may be the motivation she needs to enter BPD treatment.
“The key here is consistency,” Gorgorian says. “Say no and mean no.”