Types of Psychotherapy for Personality Disorders

Caring psychotherapist supporting her young broken down patient

A person who has a personality disorder exhibits behavior that is outside of culturally accepted norms. They show maladaptive patterns of behavior, inner experience, and cognition across any context.

If you or someone you know has a personality disorder, they likely have unhealthy thinking patterns and behaviors. They also find it difficult to relate to situations and people. This disorder affects how they engage in school, social activities, the workplace, and relationships.

To help people suffering from personality disorders, therapists began experimenting with psychotherapy methods as treatment. Right after the diagnosis, the treatment process should follow immediately. Doing so increases the effectiveness of the treatment and helps therapists determine how well the patient responds. On that note, here are the different psychotherapies used to treat personality disorders.

Types of Psychotherapy

There are three clusters of personality disorders – clusters A, B, and C, all of which require different treatment methods. The success of your treatment depends on the patient’s cooperation, the severity of the disorder, and the patient’s life situation. Since personality disorders are long-standing, the therapy can stretch on for years at most.

Milieu Therapy

Milieu therapy is a form of psychotherapy which involves therapeutic communities. Patients stay with a group of, at most, 30 people from 9 to 18 months and learn to live with them. There are rewards and punishments based on a hierarchy of collective consequences.

Milieu therapy can help treat personality disorders and behavioral problems and stimulate a person’s cognitive-communicative abilities. The entire system depends on whether patients follow the rules, learn about the consequences of their actions, and respect each other in the community.

One of the schools that offer milieu therapy is Eva Carlston. Based on online reviews about Eva Carlston, the school promotes pro-social behavior, emotional development, and growth in adolescent girls. If you want to give milieu therapy a try, the school is a good fit.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that seeks to identify and reform self-destructive, toxic behavior. The focus of treatment is on the patient’s recurring problems and how to change that. The goal is to reinforce desirable behaviors and eliminate negative ones.

This treatment is slightly different from the other forms of psychotherapy, as behavioral therapy is action-based. The therapists focus on which activities led to the formation of unwanted behaviors. They use theories under classical and operant conditioning in treating patients.

People seek behavioral therapy to treat anger issues, depression, panic disorders, and anxiety. It can also help conditions such as eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, ADHD, OCD, bipolar disorder, and other phobias.

Social Skills Training

Therapists conduct social skills training in groups. Since some personality disorders deal with psychosis and prevent patients from understanding and reading other people’s behaviors and feelings, they need direct education in social skills.

Group treatment allows patients to learn together and practice on themselves on how to respond to others appropriately. Patients undergo cognitive restructuring, coping skills training, and exposure therapy.

Schema Therapy

Young Woman Having Counselling Session

Schema therapy involves combining the different techniques to treat the symptoms of personality disorder. The goal of the treatment is to challenge the toxic behaviors exhibited by the patient. The therapist must reparent the patient to erase the mal-adaptive beliefs and feelings learned in childhood.

The treatment is an integrative type of psychotherapy that uses techniques from previously existing therapies like Gestalt therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, attachment theory, and psychoanalytic object relations theory to treat personality disorders.

Therapists help patients meet basic emotional needs and heal schemas by reducing the intensity of bodily sensations. They also seek to replace negative coping styles with adaptive patterns of behavior.

There are various treatment options for patients with personality disorders. These therapists work on changing unhealthy schemas developed in early childhood that affect how the patients interact and deal with others.

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