Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment

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What is borderline personality disorder (BPD) and what are the symptoms of borderline personality disorder?

Patients with BPD contend with pervasive instability and disturbance in the areas of emotional regulation, self-identity, interpersonal relationships, impulsivity, and may be prone to self-destructive thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

Why consider residential treatment for borderline personality disorder?

Residential treatment for borderline personality disorder at the Austen Riggs Center, Stockbridge, MA.Immersion into our treatment program helps patients with borderline personality disorder:

  • develop an awareness for the context of their troubles
  • come to grips with the emotional impact of having this kind of disorder, including the potential benefits—and risks—of a medication regimen
  • understand that their behavior affects others
  • improve their ability to understand the meaning of their symptoms and behavior
  • communicate in words instead of behavior
  • develop better emotional regulation and ability to tolerate previously overwhelming feelings
  • learn adaptive functioning
  • make better life choices with the benefit of increased understanding of themselves and their motivations
  • discover a life worth living

Successful treatment of people with borderline personality disorder is complex and multi-layered. When a person feels emotionally unstable, anticipates abandonment and rejection, has significant interpersonal difficulties, and has been unable to function adaptively, it can be challenging to find treatment that is comprehensive, integrated, and multi-faceted. Patients with BPD who have not been helped in other settings often benefit from the integrated, comprehensive psychodynamic treatment and evaluation that Riggs provides.

                  Learn about borderline personality disorder and its treatment from the experts at the Austen Riggs Center.

What benefits does a therapeutic community provide in the treatment of borderline personality disorder?

Exploring Different Roles with the Clinical Staff and the Therapeutic Community

At the Austen Riggs Center we have substantial clinical expertise and experience working with patients who have borderline personality disorder. Our treatment program is intensive, including four times weekly psychodynamic psychotherapy within a therapeutic community. The psychotherapists are all doctors (MDs, DOs, PhDs and PsyDs) who recognize the specific treatment dilemmas involved in working with someone with borderline personality disorder.

Patients have rich opportunities to learn about themselves within the therapeutic community. Through experiences in the therapeutic community they learn how others affect them, how they affect others, and are often able to shed unproductive roles. As a result of successful treatment at Riggs patients develop greater confidence and more adaptive coping skills. The goal of this comprehensive approach is to help patients develop ways of facing their future with greater competence and integrity.   

How does an integrated treatment team approach work in treating borderline personality disorder?

Each patient works with a multidisciplinary team that develops with them a treatment plan. Members of the team include doctoral level psychotherapists, at least one psychopharmacologist (who may also be the therapist to some patients), team nurses and a substance use disorder counselor. A therapeutic community staff member helps patients find their way into the formal groups and informal leisure activities within the therapeutic community program. A team social worker provides liaison contact with the patient’s family, arranges family meetings, provides family therapy with the patient's therapist if indicated, and works with the patient on such practical issues as getting a driver’s license, applying to school, preparing for job interviews, and making discharge plans when the patient is ready to transition to life outside Riggs. The same multidisciplinary team of clinicians generally works with a patient throughout their entire treatment at Riggs.

The Austen Riggs Center is an open psychiatric treatment setting located in Stockbridge, MA.How does psychiatric treatment in an open setting work?

One of the distinguishing features of the Austen Riggs Center is the open setting--our way of saying patients have complete freedom, but in return take up responsibility for their safety. There are no locked units or physical restraints and no privilege system. All admissions are voluntary. That means that after being carefully assessed as potentially suitable for the open setting both prior to and during a face-to-face preadmissions consultation, patients must decide whether to accept an offer of admission. But with freedom comes responsibility. Patients learn what it means to take responsibility for their behavior and for the decisions they make. There is ample opportunity for staff input and recommendations, but also an emphasis on developing a partnership between patients and staff that keeps in mind the patients’developmental needs and goals.

How does our comprehensive treatment prepare patients to return to a world beyond Riggs?

Patients Can Take On New Roles and Responsibilities During Their Stay

As patients move through our treatment program, they may take on new responsibilities, learn new skills, and build confidence by accepting a position of leadership within the patient community.  All these efforts are designed to enable someone to develop greater skills and more adaptive functioning in preparation for the transition to life after discharge from Riggs. As patients progress, they may step down in level of care, increasing involvement in the world beyond Riggs as they taper their participation in the therapeutic community of Riggs.

How do I inquire about treatment at Riggs?

If you are or know someone with a borderline personality disorder, or if you are a clinician who treats these patients, or if you are realizing that you simply need more than outpatient treatment to make the kind of gains that you are seeking, then Riggs may be a useful treatment option to consider.

For more information about our admissions process and treatment program for borderline personality disorder, please visit our Admissions page, call 1-800-517-4447 or visit our Contact page.

Additional resources on borderline personality disorder