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Online Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder

Phi Atratus
  • Jan 25, 2022
  • 5 min read
confused man people feeling confusion and chaos

A borderline personality disorder is a mental health disorder characterized by impulsivity and recurrent mood swings. Those affected by it may have a negative self-image, have an intense fear of abandonment, and often get involved in unstable relationships. 

It’s been stated that nearly 1.4% of adults in the U.S. struggle with borderline personality disorder, and most often, those diagnosed are women. Recently, however, it's been discovered that more men than had recently been accounted for also are affected by BPD, but that they are often misdiagnosed with depression or PTSD. 

Both in-person and online therapy are good solutions for the treatment of borderline personality disorder. 

Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder can manifest in a variety of symptoms. Here are just a few of the more notable symptoms of borderline personality disorder:

  • Impulsivity/risky behavior – Those affected by BPD may self-sabotage various pursuits, such as in personal and work-related areas, where they otherwise would have been successful. They also may get involved in unsafe sex, gambling, binge shopping, and speeding while driving. 
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Oscillating moods – One moment, someone with a borderline personality disorder may feel intense shame; the next, they may be incredibly excited, happy, or highly irritable. 
  • Suicide threats/self-injury – Suicidal ideas and self-harm are commonly expressed by individuals experiencing BPD in response to rejection and/or feelings of abandonment.
  • Explosive anger – Inappropriate bouts of intense anger may spring up periodically. It must be noted that anger isn’t always expressed outwardly (it may be directed at oneself). Those affected may also grow very solemn and bitter, speak in a sarcastic tone, and/or become engaged in physical fights. 
  • Dissociation – Borderline personality disorder may involve rapid shifts in self-image, leading one to feel they don’t exist at all or to just feel very out of touch with reality in general.

What Causes Borderline Personality Disorder?

The known leading causes of BPD are environmental factors, such as abuse and trauma, as well as genetics and certain neurochemical aspects, most likely involving messenger chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin. 

Why Do I Need Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder?

Effective treatment of borderline personality disorder typically involves a multi-faceted approach. Individuals experiencing BPD will often need to take medication, and there are many incredibly helpful ones to make use of. However, it’s important to know that medication should not be the sole course of action. Medication combined with therapy, such as online counseling, is the best way to treat borderline personality disorder. 

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Secondly, because those with BPD are at a higher risk of developing other mental disorders, therapy is the best form of treatment for BPD. 96% of those affected by BPD have a mood disorder in tandem. Anxiety disorders, substance abuse, dependence disorders, and panic disorders are also very frequently experienced by those with borderline personality disorder. 

How Does Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder Work?

Online therapy for borderline personality disorder is an extremely effective way to combat the underlying causes and symptoms surrounding the condition. Therapy fortifies personal strength by establishing an empathetic relationship between the client and the therapist. 

When it comes to treating the symptoms of paranoia often associated with BPD, there isn’t much of a difference between in-person and online therapy for borderline personality disorder. Having the unbiased guidance of someone who understands you and your goals can be a very important factor in recovery. 

Here are just a few of the specific therapeutic approaches that may be utilized: 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT reduces symptoms by targeting both the thoughts and behaviors that are associated with a borderline personality disorder. While many other therapeutic remedies may be associated with talking about things that happened in the past, CBT is more focused on the present.

The therapist also takes a more active role in the therapeutic process. They will provide straightforward advice. Because CBT operates under the assumption that one’s thoughts and behaviors have developed over the course of many years, therapists will often assign “homework,” which allows clients to practice new behaviors outside of the therapy sessions in their day-to-day lives. 

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)

DBT is a form of therapy under the umbrella of CBT techniques. It was actually one of the first therapeutic practices shown to be effective in treating borderline personality disorder. The severity of BPD symptoms has been proven to be greatly reduced by DBT. It builds upon a variety of processes that enhance personal skill sets, such as interpersonal effectiveness skills, distress tolerance skills, and emotional regulation skills.

Through individual therapy sessions, a client may acquire certain behavioral skills, such as:

  1. Regulating emotions – This is useful for learning to tolerate distress and conflict. 
  2. Learn new ways to navigate relationships with themselves and others. 
  3. Discern how to avoid unhealthy coping skills, such as self-harm, and attain the motivation to continue on the path of recovery.
  4. Find peace through mindfulness – Clients may learn more about how to live in the moment and discover the serenity that comes about when one focuses their attentional scope on the present.

Mentalization-based therapy (MBT)

MBT can be especially helpful for borderline personality disorder treatment. One of the core ideas behind MBT is that emotional regulation is necessary before an individual can explore how their mind works.

Once an individual’s emotional states are regulated, through this therapy process, they will learn how to mentalize the mental processes of themselves and others. The therapy space will often involve the exploration of different situations and perspectives.

Therapists will often investigate the problems that were the emergent reasons for the client to seek therapeutic relief. After probing these areas, therapists will check on the client’s abilities to recover when presented with emotional, interpersonal subjects (misunderstandings, intensification of intimacy, rejections, etc.).

When given a summary of the therapists’ findings, clients are asked to reevaluate old relational patterns and to approach an enhanced understanding of self. As the treatment continues, clients make better sense of dysfunctional undercurrents and learn how to expand upon interpersonal experiences outside of the context of treatment. 

Schema-focused therapy

Schema-focused therapy targets pre-existing schemas that a client may hold as a result of past experiences, such as occurrences of enmeshment, social isolation, and emotional neglect dating back to one’s childhood. This form of therapy prioritizes finding clients’ schemas and then altering them by presenting new coping strategies.

Counselors and clients may focus on exercises that help clients vent anger, break away from maladaptive behavioral qualities, and distinguish which modes of thought are unhealthy and unhelpful. 

Is Online Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder Really Effective?

It has been said that BPD is not something that can be cured in its entirety, but various therapy-based treatments offered are shown to be very effective in helping people cope with it and greatly reducing symptoms.

Many of the therapeutic approaches for BPD translate well to online therapy. Online counseling is often more affordable and accessible. It’s also not limited to the selection of therapists located within your proximity, so there are more options for assistance. Research is starting to show that online therapy can help reduce the symptoms and treat underlying causes of depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders like BPD. 

The Bottom Line

Overcoming old patterns associated with a borderline personality disorder may not seem like an easy feat. Several complications may present themselves at times, but with the persistence and guidance of a licensed professional, you may combat this disorder head-on and experience the richness of life no longer inhibited by the same emotional and old behaviors.

Just remember that a more emotionally intelligent version of yourself is just a few steps away. Before deciding, engage in some introspection and see if online therapy may be the best option for you. 

The price difference and service options offered by online therapy may be a better alternative to traditional forms of therapy for some. There are so many online counseling options out there. If you’d like to talk to a therapist for help with borderline personality disorder, you can do so with DoMental. 

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