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CBT for Personality Disorders

Personality disorders are pervasive styles of thinking and acting that are responsible for repeated problems in different areas of people’s lives. It was long thought that these disorders were largely resistant to treatment. However, with the entrance of newer Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques, such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT),  the evidence indicates that treating personality disorders can be done effectively. The following personality styles are the most common:

Borderline Personality Disorder and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): Borderline Personality Disorder is characterized by significant instability in a number of areas of one’s life, caused by intense emotional pain and an inability to effectively cope with it. Borderline Personality Disorder is generally thought that this disorder is a result of the interplay between extreme emotional sensitivity and invalidation from the environment. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), a form of CBT, is the most researched treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder. The evidence for DBT indicates dramatic improvements in numerous areas of one’s life are possible in as little as 26 weeks. Click for more information about Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder

Dependent Personality and Codependency: People with this style may be overly dependent on others for fear of abandonment or being left alone. These individuals may have difficulty making decisions, expressing opinions, saying no to others, and being alone. 

Obsessive Compulsive Personality: People with this personality style usually have very high expectations for themselves, to the point of being perfectionistic. Although generally thought as productive and reliable, these individuals risk being overly devoted to work at the expense of neglecting other meaningful areas of their life, such as family, leisure, or health. 

Avoidant: People with avoidant personalities have low self-esteem, and as a result avoid social situations where they feel they may be judged poorly. 

CBT Treatment

Cognitive-behavioral therapy for personality disorders can be very effective, though treatment usually lasts longer than for other disorders such as depression and anxiety. CBT for personality disorders varies based on the personality style of the person being treated, and often includes:

  • Mindfulness training
  • Restructuring of core beliefs
  • Experiential cognitive interventions
  • Distress tolerance training
  • Interpersonal skills training
  • Emotion regulation training
  • Graded exposure to avoided situations

Click for more information about What CBT is and How it Works