During the summer of 2014 I had the privilege of attending a Linehan Institute lecture featuring Dr. Alan E. Fruzzetti, Ph.D. The topic was ‘Borderline Personality Disorder for family members of people struggling with BPD’.
Dr. Fruzzetti began by validating the family experience. We learned individual and family distress typically includes significant levels of numerous dysregulated emotions such as: anger, hurt feelings, sadness, embarrassment, worry and individual chaotic behaviors. Dr. Fruzzetti described non-blaming ways to understand how distressed individuals often interact with their family members, resulting in suffering, hurt feelings and reduced closeness. Fruzzetti also explained and demonstrated several key communication skills which have the potential of mitigating dysfunctional behaviors in BDP sufferers.
Dr. Fruzzetti’s lecture offered some interesting ways to validate. I learned that a simple “I know” or “of course” or “sure” can be validating. Such basic responses can be so much easier, especially if I am in the middle of doing something important while at the same time conveying to my loved one, I am truly listening and ‘get it’. This style of communication can be validating without requiring lengthy interaction.
Another skill, one particularly well suited to couples in emotional conflict, is to stop and touch. Even a simple, mutual touching of index fingers can lower anxiety levels and help bring about a realization the person across from you is the person you truly love. Other cathartic techniques while in conflict include, moving from the emotional brain to the logical brain, eye contact, deep breathing and bathroom breaks.
One tip for parents of minor children; step into your child’s room while they sleep, this will frequently help remind you of your unconditional love for the child who, earlier in the evening, demonstrated a proficiency with profanity that would cause a 3o year veteran sailor to blush.
Bpd global’s “BPD Survival Skills” workshop teaches that new skills take practice, but with time they can soothe pain, increase understanding, compassion, provide validation, support and can help increase closeness. Ultimately, the skills acquired in the workshop, if applied properly can help those afflicted become more peaceful, loving and less destructive.
There is no cure for BPD. However, dedicated researchers in the field of dialectical behavior therapy are rapidly increasing knowledge of, and improving therapy for this illness. Bpd global has my gratitude for their ongoing support and help; motivating me towards ever increasing compassion and courage in the life long task of learning to live with and love someone who suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder.
**The author of this article has requested anonymity.