Personality Disorder Treatment for Teens and Adults

A person with a personality disorder basks in the sun
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Dialectical behavior therapy, originally designed to treat people with borderline personality disorder, is a cornerstone of our treatment approach at Charlie Health. Fill out the short form below, or give us a call, to learn how we support people with a range of personality disorders.

A person with a personality disorder basks in the sun

How are personality disorders diagnosed?

Personality disorders are typically diagnosed through a comprehensive assessment that evaluates a person’s thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and relationships. To make an accurate diagnosis, it’s crucial to consider how these traits persist and impact different aspects of their life. The diagnostic process may involve criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), interviews, questionnaires, and behavior observations.

How does Charlie Health treat personality disorders?

Charlie Health takes a trauma-informed, attachment-focused, and empathic relational approach to working with clients diagnosed with personality disorders. We draw from existential, contemporary psychodynamic, and cognitive behavioral, skills-focused interventions to support short term empowerment and long term relief.

Group work allows our clients a blank slate and shared space to explore personal stories and provide mutual validation and support.

Difficulties in attachment and stress within interpersonal relationships are often pervasive experiences for clients experiencing personality disorder, and virtual space can provide a safe, predictable, home-based opportunity to connect with others and explore difficulties in relating in healthy, supported ways.

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What are the best types of therapy for personality disorders? 

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skills

DBT skills were initially developed to help people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) improve emotional regulation and relationships. These skills have since been found effective in treating many mental health conditions, including other personality disorders. DBT skills help people with personality disorders manage intense emotions and increase emotional awareness, impulse control, and communication skills.

Acceptance and commitment therapy

ACT helps people with personality disorders accept their emotional experiences without judgment, identify their core values, and then commit to behavior changes aligned with these values. It also teaches people coping strategies for handling distressing emotions, reducing impulsive behaviors, and enhancing overall well-being. Overall, ACT enables people to feel more in control of their personality disorder symptoms.

Psychodynamic therapy

Psychodynamic therapy helps people with personality disorders understand how early life experiences and underlying, often unconscious, thought patterns may contribute to their symptoms. By talking openly and building a strong relationship with their therapists, clients can discover the root causes of their personality disorder. Over time, these insights can help people with personality disorders boost self-esteem and learn healthier coping methods, lessening their symptoms overall. While psychodynamic therapy can be a part of treating personality disorders, it’s a longer-term therapy that requires a strong commitment for lasting change.

Other related areas of care may include


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FAQs for Personality Disorders

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What are the main clusters of personality disorders?

  • Cluster A personality disorders: Includes disorders like paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal personality disorders. People in this group exhibit peculiar behavior, struggle with relationships, and may feel isolated or paranoid.
  • Cluster B personality disorders: Encompasses disorders such as borderline, antisocial, histrionic, and narcissistic personality disorders. People with cluster B disorders have intense, unpredictable behavior patterns that affect relationships, impulsivity, and emotions.
  • Cluster C personality disorders: This cluster includes avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders. People in this category often experience high anxiety, fear, and perfectionism, leading to social avoidance, excessive reassurance-seeking, and rigid behaviors.

Symptoms of personality disorders

  • Ongoing behaviors, thoughts, and inner experiences that deviate from cultural norms
  • Difficulty forming and maintaining relationships
  • Persistent emotional instability
  • Impulsivity
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Engagement in self-destructive or risky behaviors
  • Maladaptive coping strategies
  • Limited capacity for empathy and insight
  • Challenges in adapting to life’s demands and effective interpersonal interactions

Can teens have personality disorders?

Yes, teenagers can have personality disorders. While personality disorders are typically diagnosed in adulthood, the patterns of behavior, cognition, and emotion that characterize these disorders often begin to emerge during adolescence. Diagnosing and assessing personality disorders during adolescence can be challenging due to ongoing personality development. However, early intervention through therapy and support can be crucial in addressing these issues and helping the individual develop healthier patterns of functioning.

How common are personality disorders?

Personality disorders vary in prevalence depending on the specific disorder and population studied. Generally, they affect around 10 to 15% of the population, with borderline personality disorder (BPD) being among the most prevalent at 1 to 6%. The rates may be higher in clinical populations seeking mental health treatment, emphasizing the importance of early diagnosis and appropriate treatment when necessary.

What causes personality disorders?

  • Genetics: People with a family history of personality disorders may be more at risk for developing a personality disorder.
  • Childhood experiences: Trauma or neglect can shape maladaptive coping strategies and interpersonal patterns associated with personality disorders.
  • Environmental influences: Cultural and social factors can impact the expression and prevalence of certain traits and behaviors associated with personality disorders.
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