Including Family Members in BPD Treatment

According to the biosocial model of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), the development of BPD is the result of a complex interaction between biological factors present in the person, and the person's environment. The most important environmental factor is, generally, the family environment.

Factors such as family psychopathology (having family members with mental illness), poor attachment to parents, invalidating parents, and any kind of abuse are all family-related risk factors which can contribute to the development of BPD, or any mental illness, in persons with the right biology. If family factors are so important, shouldn't family be included in treatment if possible?

One recent study examined a family-based Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) program, and found positive results. Of course, whether family inclusion makes sense depends on many factors. For teens living at home with their parents, it seems highly advisable to include the parents in some fashion. By treating the family-system you address some root causes, and hopefully everyone benefits. When and how to include the family members of older clients, such as spouses, is a more difficult decision.

Tanner Oliver