When Alex Miller, Psy.D, spoke about advances in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) at a recent conference about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), he scored points with Melissa Patterson, MS, therapist at the specialized OPI Intensive for young men and women with BPD.
“Many of the points he made struck me as confirming the unique strengths we offer here at Roanne,” she said.
Dr. Miller is co-founder of Cognitive and Behavioral Consultants (CBC) of Westchester and Manhattan, New York, and professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Bronx, NY, Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
The March conference at UCLA, “Diagnosing and Treating Borderline Personality Disorder in Adolescents & Young Adults,” was hosted by the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder (NEA.BPD), a nonprofit group that helps build public awareness about BPD.
Ms. Patterson said she resonated with Dr. Miller when he said people must learn and practice new behaviors such as DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) in all relevant contexts.
“(Our participants) do this,” Ms. Patterson said. “They get 24-hour skills coaching with DBT-trained staff who help them apply DBT skills in the moment.”
She explained that in the first (Immersion) phase of OPI Intensive, young adults “take their (DBT) skills out of the therapy room and…apply them in challenging contexts (improv groups, yoga and goal action workshops) with DBT-trained staff supporting that process.”
In Roanne’s second (Integration) phase, “participants take these skills out into the community—in school, work and extracurricular settings.
In this way, by the time a participant is ready to transition out of our program, they have practiced using and generalizing skills in contexts relevant to their life goals.”
Ms. Patterson attended the conference with Robert Fischer, MD, executive director and co-founder of all OPI Living programs, and fellow OPI Intensive therapists Rebecca DeLeon, MFT, Tracy Gottbetter, MFT and Emily Rabuchin, MFT. Everyone gleaned valuable information from the speakers.
“Efrain Bleiberg, MD (from the Menninger Clinic Baylor College of Medicine) presented one of the most informative and engaging presentations on Mentalization that I have ever heard,” Dr Fischer said.
Dr. Bleiberg spoke about “The State of the Art on Mentalizing-based treatment with Adolescents and Families.” Mentalization is the process by which we implicitly and explicitly interpret the actions of ourselves and others as meaningful on the basis of intentional mental states.
Dr. Fischer noted a recent study discussed by Dr. Bleiberg that demonstrates how mothers and infants do not need to match affect (such as facial response) 100% of the time in order for the infant to mature and develop emotional resiliency.
Dr. Bleiberg also recognized the therapeutic value of patience, tolerance and compassion, touchstone words often used at OPI.
He also referenced the concept of “Good Enough Mothering,” a theory developed by Donald Winnicott, MD, in the late 1960s/early 1970s. Winnicott studied the way foundations of health are laid down by ordinary mothers in the ordinary loving care of their babies: “that highly particular transaction that constitutes love between two imperfect people.”
Dr. Fischer also had high praise for Blaise Aguirre, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, who “stated the obvious” when he said BPD should be diagnosed earlier in adolescence.
“It is time to give young people an opportunity to receive the treatment and proper care at an earlier age,” Dr. Fischer said. Currently, BPD is only recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, in people over 18.
Jacqueline Hernandez, mental health liaison for US Representative Grace F. Napolitano, 32nd Congressional District of California, presented a well-deserved recognition award to the NEA.BPD and its president, Perry Hoffman, PhD.
A family’s story about their daughter who lost her life to BPD after committing suicide made the biggest impression on Ms. Rabuchin.
“They had a very touching story,” she said. “The parents started an organization called sashbear.org in the memory of their daughter, Sasha.”
Dr. Blaise Aguirre,