Getting help for BPD

Getting help for borderline personality disorder (BPD)

Getting help for borderline personality disorder (BPD) 1200 800 Team Mindsum
Last updated: 18 May 2021

This article covers:

– What types of therapies are involved?

– What types of professionals are involved?

– The journey of recovery from borderline personality disorder

What types of therapies are involved?

Psychological therapies are used as the main form of treatment for borderline personality disorder (BPD). Psychological therapies can help the person to learn more helpful ways of coping. Some of these types of therapy will be discussed below.

Dialectical behaviour therapy

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is a type of talk therapy that focuses on helping people with BPD to manage their emotions and change destructive ways to more useful ways of behaving. This therapy can be provided individually and/or within a group. Research has shown that DBT can be highly effective in treating severe symptoms of BPD in young people.

The idea behind DBT is to help people with BPD by using two concepts, which includes validation and dialectics.

The therapist will work with the person to help them accept their own emotions and acknowledge that these are valid. The person will also learn to develop more openness to other opinions and ways of viewing situations. One of the main goals of DBT is to help the person to see things differently from their “black and white” view.

Mentalisation-based therapy

Mentalisation-based therapy (MBT) is a type of talk therapy that focuses on helping people to understand their own mental states and those of others, and how this relates to behaviour. This therapy can be provided individually and/or within a group. Research indicates that MBT can help to reduce symptoms of BPD in young people.

The idea behind MBT for people with BPD is to help them expand their awareness of mental states and situations, especially when interacting with others.

The therapist might work with the person to recognise their own mental states and to become more aware of other’s mental state through mentalisation. The person will have the opportunity to assess the validity of mental states. This will help them to respond in a more helpful way, as opposed to reacting impulsively in different situations.

Art therapy

Art therapy is a type of therapy that uses creativity to help the person with BPD to express their emotions. This can be especially helpful for the person who finds it difficult to voice how they really feel. Research suggests that art therapy can have many benefits for people with BPD.

Art therapy might involve different forms of art such as painting, sculpting, drama, dance movements and the use of music.

Art therapy courses are provided by trained therapists. They might provide weekly sessions that can last up to two hours. One of the main goals of art therapy is to help the person to express their thoughts and feelings in a way that is productive and informative.

Therapeutic communities

Therapeutic communities (TCs) are environments that are structured and designed to bring together people with complex psychological conditions, such as BPD. Research has shown that TCs can be effective to help people with mental health issues in improving their overall quality of life and social engagement

The TC might include a residential setting with a specialised programme, where the people involved can take part in different types of therapy and other activities.

Activities might involve chores, meal preparations, games, physical exercises, and community meetings. The aim is to help people with BPD to learn helpful skills and how to be part of a community.

What types of professionals are involved?

There are different professionals that may or may not be involved in the treatment process of BPD. These might include counsellors, psychotherapists, doctors/psychiatrist, mental health nurses, support workers, social workers, and occupational therapists. These terms might be confusing, but the main difference is in the training that each of these professionals have received. 

In the UK, there is not much of a distinction made between counsellor or psychotherapist. Both professionals provide therapy. However, there are some slight differences between these two professional terms. These are outlined below.

Counsellors: Compared to psychotherapists, counsellors tend to have had a shorter training and they help people deal with their issues on a more short-term basis. There may be school-based counsellors available that children and young people can approach at their own school. Here at Mindsum, we have counsellors that are available to provide support.

Psychotherapists: Psychotherapy training tends to be longer. Psychotherapists can also give counselling but their approach to talk therapy is more in-depth, exploring the history and causes of certain behaviours and emotional issues. Here at Mindsum, we have psychotherapists that are available to provide support.

Doctors: These are professionals that are trained in medicine. This will likely be the family GP, who might find it necessary to prescribe certain medications that might help the person to cope with other issues, such as health problems.

Psychiatrist: These are professionals that are also trained in medicine. However, they also specialized in the field of psychiatry. Psychiatrists will prescribe certain medications that will help the person to cope with other mental illnesses or to calm the person down during a crisis.

Mental health nurses: Nurses trained in mental health might also be involved. If the person is in a hospital setting or is seen by a crisis team due to self-harm or suicide, a mental health nurse might help to give treatment by administering medication.

Support workers: Workers trained in helping vulnerable people to live better lives might also be involved with the person. This might be within a community setting or a crisis situation. Their role is to provide emotional and practical support (e.g. helping parents to cope, helping with paperwork, making child-care arrangements).

Social workers: Workers trained in protecting vulnerable individuals might also be involved. This might be within a community setting or a crisis situation. Social workers will problem-solve and organise the right support for the person to ensure their protection.

The journey of recovery from borderline personality disorder

Therapy for BPD can vary in length depending on the person’s needs and how they live their life. Usually, a complete course of therapy for BPD can last up to one year or longer. The treatment for BPD can look different for each person. But there are some things that are expected when going through therapy for this disorder.


This is an important phase, where the therapist and/or other mental health experts will get a feel of what is going on. The therapist might need to diagnose whether the person has BPD. This process can be quite complex, and it can take some time before a diagnosis can be confirmed. At this stage, the therapist will need to ask many questions. This will help to create a full picture of what is going on and to know what type of treatment will be most helpful.

Therapy sessions

Therapy sessions will take place individually and/or within a group setting. An important aspect of therapy sessions is the relationship that the therapist will build with the person. This will create a safe space that will encourage them to explore their difficulties. The sessions will equip the person to manage their emotions by developing more productive ways of reacting to themselves, certain situations, and other people.

Progress and setbacks

When having treatment for BPD, there will be progress and setbacks. It is important not to feel discouraged when this happens, as this is normal when dealing with a complex mental illness, such as BPD. These situations provide opportunities to discover new ways to move forward together with the mental health experts involved in the treatment.

Ending therapy

The therapist will eventually prepare the person for the end of therapy. The end of therapy will take place once the person has made a lot of progress and has reached their treatment goals. This phase might not be easy for a person with BPD, as they might easily feel rejected or abandoned. However, a skilled therapist will help the person to develop as much resilience as possible, so that they can feel more confident to cope without the therapist.

Follow up

There might be an agreement with the therapist to have a follow-up meeting once therapy is over. This is to check how the person is coping. If they are doing well, there will be no need for more support. But if they continue to have challenges, this will be an opportunity to have extra support.

List of useful resources 

Borderline personality disorder

To read our information on BPD, you can click here to access the link.

Treatment for borderline personality disorder

Mental health UK offers some helpful information on what treatment for BPD can involve on their website. You can click here to access the link.

Introduction to counselling and psychotherapy

The British Association for the Counselling Professions (BACP) have a useful document on different aspects of therapy. To read more, you can click here to access the link.


Click here to book free support sessions

Help someone with BPD

How to help someone with borderline personality disorder (BPD)

How to help someone with borderline personality disorder (BPD) 1200 675 Team Mindsum
Last updated: 17 May 2021

It is challenging when you have a loved one who has been diagnosed with BPD. It is a disorder that tends to interfere with everyday life. It can especially cause problems within the relationship with your loved one itself. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to help. These are discussed below.

Understand borderline personality disorder (BPD)

It is a good idea to read as much information on BPD as you can. Understanding BPD and how it works will help you to recognize the ways that your loved one is affected, and the ways that you can help.

To read more information on BPD, you can view our pages on borderline personality disorder and getting help for borderline personality disorder.

Help them to feel supported

A person with BPD has difficulty with their emotions and can often feel insecure about other people’s intentions. It is important for you to help them feel safe and supported.

Be dependable and trustworthy- Try to stick to your promises and commitment towards them. Many people with BPD struggle with thoughts of being abandoned or rejected. Let them know that you are there for them and they can count on you.

Show acceptance- BPD might be difficult for you to understand, but it is a real problem for them. Let them know that they are accepted no matter what. Avoid being judgemental or critical about their difficulties.

Be patient- You might sometimes feel frustrated and want to react in the moment. Be patient and take time to think before reacting. This will help you to respond in ways that are more helpful.

Help them to find the right support

You can encourage them to find support through a GP or a therapist. If this involves your young child, you can contact these services. You might:

  • Help them to book an appointment with a GP or therapist

  • Offer support when they attend appointments (e.g., waiting in the waiting room or attending some sessions if you need to)

  • Help them search for support groups or self-help resources (e.g., educational leaflets, mindfulness apps, wellbeing sessions)

  • Encourage them to keep attending sessions and to not give up

Know when to get urgent support

If your loved one is self-harming, expressing suicidal ideas or is having unusual experiences (e.g., seeing or hearing things that are not there) you should get immediate support. 

You should contact emergency services, such as the 999 or you can get them to the nearest emergency department.  Here are some organisations who can help you 24/7 if you need urgent help.

Validate their experiences

Try not to discount their feelings or experiences. Let them know that their experiences are valid and acknowledge that they are real. This can help them to feel understood and safe to express how they feel.

Set boundaries

Your loved one might need a lot of reassurance so that they can cope with difficult thoughts and insecurities. While it is good to help them feel supported, it is also helpful to have clear boundaries. You can talk to your loved one to discuss what you can and cannot do for them.

Plan support in advance

Have a conversation with your loved one and plan out what you and others will do during a crisis. You might want to consider the following:

  • Making sure you have a list of emergency contact services

  • Taking hold of bank cards, vehicles, or any other important assets

  • Think about helping them with their usual tasks that they won’t be able to get done

  • Talk with your loved one and their healthcare provider on what to do if they refuse treatment

Learn their triggers

Pay attention to the situations that usually cause your loved one to have negative feelings and reactions. This doesn’t mean that you must walk on eggshells around your loved one. You can discuss this with them directly, so you can try your best to avoid certain triggers. 

Point out their strengths

It is good to remind your loved one of the things they are good at. Point out their strengths and the areas where they do well. This will help them to build their self-esteem, to feel more secure and this can uplift their mood.

Make time for fun

Doing fun activities with your loved one can help to uplift their mood and contribute to a healthy bond in your relationship. You might want to schedule regular activities you both find enjoyable (e.g., watching a funny movie, ordering your favourite food, going for a walk).

Look after yourself too

It is extremely important for you to look after yourself. Whether you are a parent, family member or a friend, you will be in a better position to give help, as long as you are taking care of your own well-being too. To do this you might:

  • Get other family members involved in supporting your loved one

  • Schedule some time off for yourself

  • See a professional that can support your mental health

To read more about looking after yourself, see our page on self-care when helping someone else.

List of useful resources 


To read information about helping someone with borderline personality disorder on the MIND website, you can click here to access the link.  

Help Guide

To read information about helping someone with borderline personality disorder on the Help Guide website, you can click here to access the link.

For urgent support

To get urgent help, you or your loved one can contact the NHS urgent helpline or the Samaritans

Click here to book free counselling sessions

Borderline personality disorder

Borderline personality disorder

Borderline personality disorder 1200 800 Team Mindsum
Last updated: 17 May 2021

This article has 3 sections. This is the first section and covers:

– What is borderline personality disorder or BPD?

– Causes of borderline personality disorder

What is borderline personality disorder?

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a type of personality disorder, where the person has difficulties in their mood and relationships with others.  

It is normal for any person to experience difficult emotions and problems in relationships sometimes, but for the person with BPD this tends to be extreme.

It can be quite hard for a mental health professional to confirm a diagnosis of BPD in children or young people, as they are still developing. But, if the symptoms are persistent at a young age and can only be explained by the BPD criteria, it could possibly be diagnosed.

Causes of borderline personality disorder

There is no specific cause for BPD. It is likely due to a combination of genetics and environmental influences.

People with BPD grow up with different experiences, but a history of trauma and neglect is quite common. These experiences might cause the person to develop unhelpful beliefs about themselves and others around them. These might include:

  • Feeling invalidated or unsupported as a child

  • Family instability

  • Severe neglect

  • Emotional, sexual, or physical abuse

  • Losing a parent

Not all people with BPD will have a traumatic history. Some people might still have BPD despite growing up in an environment without stressful situations. For this reason, it is difficult to know exactly what might cause BPD.  


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