The short answer is this…
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is the most studied therapy for helping those with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), but it is not the right therapy for everyone.
I’ve worked with, and met, thousands of individuals with BPD and this is what I’ve seen and heard:
DBT can be awesome (it was for me, but I also supplemented it with other therapies, practices and coaching.)
DBT doesn’t work for a lot of people (I’ll go into “why” in this post later.)
For those that DBT helps, it falls short of solving all of the things that need to be solved (I’ll go into this as well.)
Some DBT therapists are not skilled at working with those with Borderline. Just because a therapist offers DBT does not mean they understand 1) how to work with someone with Borderline or 2) have proper training.
Individuals “outgrow” DBT—they want more.
Why DBT doesn’t work for a lot of people:
DBT doesn’t work if:
There are co-occurring disorders that DBT doesn’t address.
If you’ve been mis-diagnosed with BPD, even though you have BPD “symptoms”. The biggest thing I’ve seen with this is that therapists (not all) tend to throw everyone who is suicidal into the BPD category. Especially adolescents.
You need more support/validation/life direction than DBT offers.
You don’t have the energy to devote to learning all the skills—what you need is motivation and/or hospitalization.
Your therapist isn’t good or you just aren’t ready or a good fit for DBT.
How do you know what to do?
Keep at it. Just keep trying.
BPD is a medical condition that may require continued or different therapy and also life style changes. For example, I have many friends with Borderline who are doing really well and have great relationships. But to support their condition, they’ve made lifestyle modifications to reduce what is stressful to them, sought alternative careers, and have sought out more supportive partners.
So many prefer not to be labeled with a mental disorder, and I agree, we are all unique (and usually super special) human beings who just don’t fit into a “normal” mold. Once we can embrace that, get support, and find our niche—then everything gets better.
Most of us are emotionally very sensitive. We have to learn to navigate and find our tribe and our talent in a world that does not understand us fully.
There is value in DBT. I love it, I teach it. It changed my life in giving me so many valuable skills. And also, for me, DBT fell short of helping me find my true life’s calling and the partner who was perfectly suited just for me. I also needed to find a “tribe” of supportive people like me, and I work really hard to connect my clients in that way. If this resonates with you, I’d love to work with and support you. Your first step is to schedule a coaching session and learn more.
You are loved ❤️, Tami
Your thoughts? Did DBT work for you? Comment below 👇.
"Tami Green is an inspiration to us all, demonstrating that with courage, persistence, and the right treatment, persons with Borderline Personality Disorder can recover. Her mission, to spread the word that new research supports a picture of optimism and hope, is just the right one."
— John Oldham, MD Past President of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff of the Menninger Clinic and Executive Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs and Development of the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX