Why Residential Programs are Vital to the Successful Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder

Although Borderline Personality Disorder and those living with it are often viewed as “difficult,” advancements in the field of mental health are working to expand our understanding of this mental health challenge and bridge the gap between those coping with BPD on their own and the positive residential treatment centers that can best support them. If you’re living with this illness, know that there are treatments out there that can help your successfully address your mental health issues with compassion—and without judgment.

To live with BPD is to live with intense emotional pain on a day-to-day basis, an experience that pushes you to escape this pain and act in ways that, to the outside observer, seem overly emotional and irrational. Over the course of history, our cultural perceptions of BPD have created numerous myths around the disorder, including that it’s uniquely difficult to treat and that people living with it are resistant to treatment. In reality, BPD isn’t likely more difficult to treat than any other mental health challenge—we’ve simply lacked the knowledge and understanding of how to best accomplish treatment.

Despite advancing our knowledge of the illness over the years, treatment for people with BPD is still not optimal—although almost 20% of outpatient admissions and psychiatric hospitalizations comprise of people with BPD, only 3% of the National Institute of Mental Health’s (NIMH’s) budget is put towards understanding and treating this mental illness.

If you live with BPD, understand that there are residential treatment programs out there that will make an active effort to understand and treat your mental health challenge. Whether you have been wary of seeking treatment for your own personal reasons or feel like the options in front of you haven’t provided you with the compassionate understanding that you need, there is a movement in the field of mental health sparking right now that aims to transform the way that we treat BPD and give it the attention that it deserves.

Expanding Our Understanding


A recent issue of the Harvard Review of Psychiatry is a perfect example of the strong movement in the field to evolve our understanding of BPD and creates new paths the recovery. Over the course of seven papers written by experts in the field of BPD and mental health, researchers highlighted the neurobiological causes of BPD, the importance of early intervention, and treatments that have shown the most success in treating the disorder.

“We hope these articles will help clinicians understand their BPD patients, encourage more optimism about their treatability, and help set a stage from which the next generation of mental health professionals will be more willing to address the clinical and public health challenges they present,” said Lois Choi-Kain and John Gunderson of the Adult Borderline Center and Training Institute at McLean Hospital in a guest editorial.

A promotion of optimism and understanding among clinicians is an extremely important part of recovering from any form of mental health challenge, as these are the people that are typically your first line of contact for treatment. How they act towards you and perceive your illness is going to greatly influence your perception of the treatment process. Without adequate understanding of the illness, you might feel alienated by clinicians right from the start of treatment and deterred from going further. In the right residential treatment setting, however, you will find not only the medical support, but the emotional support that you’ve been searching for.

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Bridging the Gap


No matter how misunderstood you feel or have felt, know that there are treatment centers out there that can bridge the gap between you and the therapies and environments conducive to helping you recover as best as possible. Treatment modalities such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) have been shown to help people with BPD reconcile their strongly opposing emotions through becoming mindful of them and ultimately taking charge of them instead of letting them guide your behaviors. Research supports DBT’s effects at the biological level, too, suggesting that it curbs activity in areas of the brain involved in emotional regulation.

But without the proper guidance, even the most proven effective therapies can fall short of your potential, which is why you need to establish a strong therapeutic alliance that fosters an open, honest, and adaptive relationship. A relationship where you can trust in your therapist to truly have your best interests at heart and work outside of the inaccurate cultural perceptions of the “difficult” BPD patient, giving you the chance to express your feelings and explore them as deeply as possible within a non-judgmental environment.

Using the benefits of the guided therapies and peer support established in residential treatment, you can learn to grow outside of the constraints of your BPD and benefit from a warm, adaptive environment aware of the dangers of inaccurate cultural perceptions and the benefits of compassionate care. No matter how you think people perceive you and the pain that is influencing your world now, know that there is a whole other world out there filled with people driven by a desire to help you overcome your pain and focus on the pleasures of life instead of living to escape the negatives.

Bridges to Recovery offers comprehensive residential treatment for people living with Borderline Personality Disorder and other co-occurring mental health challenges. Contact us to learn more about how you can take advantage of therapies and peer support to reconcile your painful emotions in a positive environment.

Lead Image Source: Unsplash user Myles Tan