Hypnotherapy for borderline personality disorder

This is an area that I love working with. However, the condition has always had a bit of a bad reputation. So I thought I would write a short article for hypnotherapists and people who are interested in the subject. There are a large number of tools available to the practising hypnotherapist which are beneficial when working with borderline personality disorder

Some of the symptoms that people with BPD have therapy for are anxiety, low mood with suicidal thoughts, emotional regulation issues and very poor self-worth. As this is a very large area to go into I will try to summarise as best as possible.

The main techniques that are initially used:

  • Ego strengthening: This technique I have found is used a lot and I would even say that it is used in every session to help the person develop a better feeling of self-worth whilst also working with the anxiety. You can also modify it to help develop psychological resilience.

  • Parts therapy or ego state therapy: This is useful later on when working with a client with BPD as there tends to be a lot of psychological conflict in regards to thinking and emotions. I have found parts therapy to be very useful when working with black and white thinking and also ambivalence in thinking which is very common. This technique is also useful with impulsivity and anger.

  • Safe place: This is a vital technique to use when preparing to do any form of trauma work. With people that have BPD, but not all, there tends to be a history of trauma. The safe place technique allows the client a psychological safe haven to retreat to if the pain is too much to bear when doing trauma work.

  • Rewind technique: This is a great tool to use and it can also be combined with ego state therapy or parts therapy. However, I would highly recommend waiting a good while until the person's self-worth has improved dramatically and they feel psychologically ready. I have personally found that this work is usually best done late midway in therapy to nearer the end.

  • Grounding: Sometimes clients that have BPD will also experience dissociation or depersonalisation (feeling of unreality or being disconnected). Grounding techniques and imagery can help with this and is usually really useful after doing the trauma work. I usually set grounding techniques as homework along with self-hypnosis. Mindfulness is also very good for this as well.

  • Emotional regulation: There is a large amount of imagery that can be utilised to help a client control emotional regulation problems.

  • Risk assessment: This is a huge area but I highly recommend it and to always go through it with your client in regards to having suicidal thoughts as they may not have the intention to act on them.

  • Dialectic behavioural therapy: It's a great therapy, but not for everyone, a lot of the principles and skills can be utilised. There is also a lot of evidence to support its use.

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Written by Douglas Kidd RMN,CertCBT, DipClinHyp, DipHyp, DipCouns, DipSN, DipHE

I run a low-cost therapy clinic in a relaxed environment.
I work as a hypnotherapist with a background working as a mental health nurse. I have worked as a hypnotherapist for the last 16 years.I have an interest in working with mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and PTSD. I also enjoy working with stress-related conditions and phobias.  I also have a particular intere… Read more

Written by Douglas Kidd RMN,CertCBT, DipClinHyp, DipHyp, DipCouns, DipSN, DipHE

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