Self-Help for Borderline Personality Disorder

Man reading book in cafe. Tara Moore

While borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious condition that requires treatment by qualified mental health professionals, there are also sources of self-help (or self-guided strategies for symptom reduction) for people with BPD.

These self-help strategies should be used in conjunction with formal treatments for BPD (such as psychotherapy and medication).

Self-Help Education

It is important to be educated about the BPD diagnosis, the symptoms of BPD, available treatments, and other facets of the disorder. In fact, most professional treatments for BPD include a psychoeducation component, and there is evidence that just receiving education about BPD can reduce symptoms.

In addition to the education that you receive as part of treatment, however, it is possible to find additional information on your own. There are a variety of good sources of knowledge about BPD, including websites and books.

It is important to remember, however, that not all sources of information are reliable. For example, while the internet can be an excellent source of reliable information, there is also unreliable information on the web.

Self-Help Coping Skills Training

Another appropriate use of self-help for BPD is in the area of coping skills training. Many people in treatment for BPD augment their formal skills training with informal self-guided training. To learn some coping skills that you can start using now, check out these resources.

In addition, there are some very good books available to help you learn healthy coping skills. Two highly recommended books include:

The Borderline Personality Disorder Survival Guide by Alex Chapman and Kim Gratz, 2007, New Harbinger Publications.

The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Workbook: Practical DBT Exercises for Learning Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation, & Distress Tolerance by Matthew McKay, Jeffrey C. Wood, and Jeffrey Brantley, 2007, New Harbinger Publications.

Self-Help Emotional Processing and Expression in BPD

Some people find that processing or expressing emotions on their own can be a very useful way to engage in self-help. For example, some people write in a journal or blog, others draw or paint, and some find other creative, healthy ways to express their emotions. There is some research that suggests that expressive writing can have a variety of positive consequences, including better physical health and reduced psychological symptoms.

It is important to note that for some people, engaging in these types of strategies can feel overwhelming or triggering. If you feel you do not have the coping skills needed to manage the emotions that come from emotional processing activities, then you probably need to start with some coping skills training. However, if you and your therapist think you are ready to try emotional processing exercises, you may find that writing in a journal can be a good place to start.

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  1. Zanarini MC, Conkey LC, Temes CM, Fitzmaurice GM. Randomized Controlled Trial of Web-Based Psychoeducation for Women With Borderline Personality Disorder. J Clin Psychiatry. 2018;79(3). doi:10.4088/JCP.16m11153

  2. Kramer U. The Role of Coping Change in Borderline Personality Disorder: A Process-Outcome Analysis on Dialectical-Behaviour Skills Training. Clin Psychol Psychother. 2017;24(2):302-311.doi:10.1002/cpp.2017

  3. Sabo mordechay D, Nir B, Eviatar Z. Expressive writing - Who is it good for? Individual differences in the improvement of mental health resulting from expressive writing. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2019;37:115-121. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2019.101064

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