How Family Members Can Help Support a Young Adult With BPD

Empowerment Womens Group Therapy OPI Living

While a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD) can seem overwhelming, there are many options available once the diagnosis is made. BPD is characterized by intense emotions, unbalanced moods, and trouble with relationships.

If you have a loved one diagnosed with BPD, you have probably experienced a range of emotions from anger and frustration to sadness and a feeling of helplessness. Thankfully, there are many things you can do to support young adults and loved ones with this disorder.

Tips for Managing Symptoms

BPD is a personality disorder that affects relationships, moods, and emotions of not just the person diagnosed but also the entire network surrounding that person. In order to successfully treat BPD long-term, the whole family should be involved and supportive. Entire thought processes and behavior patterns may need to be altered in order to manage the symptoms.

Here is a list of things you can do immediately to help:

  • Be there to listen.
  • Encourage the person to talk about their feelings.
  • Be patient and understand that healing takes time.
  • Encourage them to exercise to relieve stress.
  • Keep a set eating and sleeping schedule.
  • Educate yourself on the disorder.
  • Attend therapy together.
  • Praise reflective actions rather than impulsive ones.
  • Help them to take responsibility for their own actions.
  • Learn to take the middle ground and seek compromises.
  • Discover emotional triggers.
  • Focus on good behavior.
  • Control your own emotions.
  • Be compassionate.
  • Help them find a location that is comforting to help avert a crisis.

Those suffering from BPD may exhibit a wide range of symptoms, and no two cases of BPD are the same. The most important thing you can do for someone is help them seek out professional assistance. A medical professional can work with your family to develop a plan that will work best for your situation. Suicide is a real threat for those suffering from BPD, so prompt treatment is imperative. The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that 10 percent of people with BPD complete suicide attempts. If you suspect suicidal behavior, get help immediately.


There are many types of therapy available, but the one that seems to be the most effective in treating BPD is dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), developed by Marsha Linehan. DBT focuses on changing negative thought processes into more positive ones and also on validating emotions and teaching coping skills. In young adults, families are taught how to stop enabling or encouraging negative behavior, and how to instead learn tools that are useful for reinforcing positive behavior. Group and family therapy in which all members of the caregiving network learn these tools can be very effective in helping to manage the symptoms of BPD.

Here at OPI, we employ many treatment modalities, and our skilled professionals strive to find the right fit for each individual and family unit. Family, group, and peer therapy and support groups may help someone with BPD combat their feelings of emptiness and abandonment. We offer specialized treatments focused on assisting young adults through tumultuous times and rough transitions.

There is hope for young adults with BPD and their families alike. Contact us today for more information on available treatments.

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