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Borderline personality disorder

Who can help with borderline personality disorder?

BPD can be treated by psychiatrists and psychologists. It is sometimes also treated by GPs, nurses, social workers and occupational therapists with special training.

Specialised mental health services for people with BPD are available in some major cities.

You will need to understand who provides which type of care in the region where you live.

All psychiatrists and psychologists should be able to diagnose and treat BPD, but some have more expertise and experience than others.

If you don’t live in a city or large town, your GP may be the main person who treats you for your BPD, possibly in consultation with the nearest mental health service.

More about mental health professionals

Psychiatrists: their role in treating borderline personality disorder

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who are experts in mental health. They are specialists in diagnosing and treating people with mental health problems such as BPD.

Psychiatrists have a medical degree plus extra mental health training. They have done at least 11 years of university study and medical training.

Psychiatrists often lead teams of other mental health workers who can help with your treatment.

More about psychiatrists

Find a psychiatrist near you who treats BPD

What you can expect from your psychiatrist and other health-care professionals

Mental health services should be welcoming to people with BPD.

You are entitled to receive treatment, just like people with any other mental illness or medical condition.

However, sometimes it is hard to find someone to treat you who is experienced in caring for people with BPD. Many mental health services can only provide full treatment for a small number of people with BPD at a time.

Your health professionals should show respect and compassion. When you tell them about your experiences and problems, they should listen, pay attention, and take your feelings seriously.

If you have to go to an emergency department because you have harmed yourself, the staff should treat your injuries professionally and kindly.

They should also arrange for you to talk to a trained mental health professional (e.g. a psychiatrist or psychologist).

Questions to ask your health-care professional

  • Are you comfortable treating people with BPD? (If not, can you refer me to someone who is experienced and comfortable with BPD?)
  • Do you have any special training in the treatment of BPD? What is your approach to treatment?
  • Can I talk about sensitive topics or difficult issues in my life? Are you comfortable with me expressing my emotions during the consultations?
  • How will we know if the treatment is working?
  • If you provide only one type of treatment, how do I get different treatment if I need it?
  • How often will I have treatment sessions? How long does each session last?
  • How do you work with the partners/family of the person you are treating for BPD?
  • Are you available to call during a crisis? If not, who should I call in a crisis?
  • Where can I get reliable information about my condition? Can you recommend any books or articles?
  • What are your fees? Will my health insurance cover the fees?

Making decisions

You should expect your treatment provider or health-care team to give you all the information and help you need to deal with your illness.

If you are an adult, they should let you make your own decisions about your treatment (unless it is a medical emergency).

Normally, they will speak with you and your partner or family about the types of treatment available.

You can ask them to explain anything you don’t understand.

Dealing with past traumatic experiences

If you have experienced trauma, the health professionals who treat your BPD should support you and make you feel safe while you recover.

Talking about trauma should only happen when:

  • you are feeling strong
  • you have already started psychological treatment and your problems and symptoms have improved
  • you trust your treatment provider.

It is usually not helpful to discuss past trauma while you are in an emergency department during a crisis.

Talking about past trauma should not be the main focus of your treatment. Treatments focused solely on trauma are not the most effective treatments for people with BPD.

Page last reviewed Apr 2017 | C1038V1

This is a general guide only, and does not replace individual medical advice. Please speak to your doctor for advice about your situation. The RANZCP is not liable for any consequences arising from relying on this information. Subject matter experts, people with lived experience of mental illness and carers all contributed to this fact sheet.