Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a challenging psychological health condition characterized by intense emotional turmoil, unstable relationships, and a profound sense of emptiness. It can be tough to navigate for individuals diagnosed with BPD and their loved ones.
In times of such difficulty, many people turn to their faith and spirituality for solace and guidance. This blog post explores the concept of “Biblical Counseling for Borderline Personality Disorder,” a unique approach that blends the principles of the Christian faith with therapeutic support.
Here in this article, we will look at some principles and considerations for providing biblical counseling to individuals with borderline personality disorder:
What is Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a challenging mental health disorder that exhibits a pervasive pattern of instability in emotions, mood, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and behavior.
Individuals with BPD often struggle with intense and rapidly shifting emotions, leading to difficulties in various aspects of their lives, including work, relationships, and overall functioning. According to research, 10% of people with BPD commit suicide annually.
Here are some key features and characteristics of BPD:
- Emotional Instability: People with BPD frequently experience intense mood swings, including episodes of anger, depression, anxiety, and irritability. Relatively minor events can trigger these emotions and are challenging to control.
- Unstable Relationships: Individuals with BPD tend to have tumultuous and unstable relationships marked by idealizing and devaluing others. They may fear abandonment and engage in impulsive behaviors to avoid real or perceived abandonment.
- Identity Disturbance: People with BPD may struggle with a fragmented sense of self. They may have difficulty defining their values, goals, and personal identity, often adopting the traits and preferences of those around them.
- Impulsivity: Impulsive behaviors are common among individuals with BPD. These behaviors include reckless driving, substance abuse, binge eating, self-harm, and suicidal gestures or attempts.
- Self-Harm and Suicidal Behavior: Self-harming behaviors, such as cutting or burning, are more prevalent in individuals with BPD. They may also have recurrent thoughts of suicide or engage in suicidal actions.
- Chronic Feelings of Emptiness: Many people with BPD describe a persistent sense of emptiness and loneliness, even when surrounded by others or engaged in activities they once enjoyed.
- Intense Fear of Abandonment: Individuals with BPD often fear being abandoned or rejected by loved ones, leading to clinginess, possessiveness, or frantic efforts to prevent perceived abandonment.
- Anger and Hostility: Intense anger and difficulty managing anger are common in BPD. This anger can lead to conflicts and aggression, both verbal and physical.
- Paranoia and Suspicion: Individuals with BPD may be prone to periods of intense paranoia and suspicion, particularly regarding the intentions of others.
Biblical Counseling For Borderline Personality Disorder
In addition to medical treatment of BPD, such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), mood stabilizers, or antidepressant medication, effective biblical counseling can help restore a total restoration of a person with BPD.
Here are some principles of biblical counseling for borderline personality disorder that every Christian counselor or therapist should follow to ensure the total restoration of the individual.
1. Introduction to the Concept of Salvation
Usually, the root issue of a person with BPD is that the disorder revolves around their identity. Therefore, your first goal is to help them remove their identity and put up the identity of Christ that comes with hope, peace, love, and forgiveness.
Ephesians 4:22-24 says:
Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life – corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.
If the person is already a Christian, you must remind them of Christ’s nature and introduce them to the cross again to rededicate their life. If the person accepts the nature of Christ, it means one part of BDP is settled because the person will now have a better image of him or herself. This makes the introduction to salvation a non-arguable first step in biblical counseling for borderline personality disorder.
2. Scripture-Based Wisdom
Scripture-based wisdom refers to the guidance, teachings, and principles derived from the Bible that offer insights into living a virtuous and meaningful life. The second major principle of biblical counseling for borderline personality disorder is getting them into scripture-based wisdom.
The Bible teaches commandments, teachings, parables, and stories that provide moral and ethical guidance to help them deal with outdoor symptoms of BDP.
For instance, people with BDP have constant anxiety, overwhelming sadness, and mood instability. You can inculcate in them scripture verses that address these issues, such as:
Cast your burden on the Lord; he will support you! God will never let the righteous be shaken!
Don’t be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me.
Philippians 4:6, 7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Constantly meditating on these and more scriptural truths can help deal with the BDP symptoms gradually.
3. Prayer and Meditation
Prayer and meditation are often used for reflection, connection, and inner peace. They are effective principles for biblical counseling for borderline personality disorder.
Prayer should be incorporated as a step in the counseling, where a pastor, a Christian counselor, or the prayer team will pray for the individual.
In addition, they should be taught how to meditate on the scripture wisdom they get from the bible as this helps them internalize the truth, and this will influence their mind, which influences how they see themselves and others.
4. Emphasis on Grace and Forgiveness
Biblical counseling for borderline personality disorder should highlight the concepts of grace and forgiveness, encouraging individuals to extend grace to themselves and others.
This can be particularly important for individuals with BPD who may struggle with intense emotions, difficulty managing anger and forgiveness, and turbulent interpersonal relationships.
Individuals with BPD may experience intense self-criticism and self-blame. Emphasizing grace encourages them to show compassion and understanding, even when they make mistakes or face difficulties. This self-compassion helps in healing and emotional regulation.
Also, self-harming behaviors and impulsive actions are common among individuals with BPD. The concept of grace can encourage them to seek healthier ways of coping with emotional pain and to forgive themselves when they struggle to resist self-destructive urges.
Additionally, grace can be a powerful antidote to shame, as it teaches that individuals are valued and loved despite their flaws and mistakes.
Accountability refers to the responsibility and answerability that individuals, organizations, or groups have for their actions, decisions, and behaviors.
It is a fundamental concept that prompts individuals with BDP to explain their actions to a higher person, who can be a counselor, therapist, pastor, or church elder.
Accountability is closely tied to trust and integrity. The Christian counselor must learn to keep confidential information discussed safe and secret. Accountability serves as a means of checking and monitoring the progress of the individual.
6. Supportive Community
For biblical to be completed, the counselor must provide the individual with a
supportive community in the church or neighborhood that provides one another emotional, practical, and social support.
The community is characterized by empathy, mutual assistance, and a shared commitment to the well-being and success of its members.
The individual should be able to feel loved and cared for and have a sense of belonging as part of the community. Additionally, the community should be patient enough to walk individuals through their healing process and avoid judging them.
In addition to emotional support, the community should be able to offer practical help. This assistance can range from helping with childcare, transportation, or household chores to providing advice or resources to address specific problems.
Biblical counseling for individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) offers a unique and valuable approach to healing and recovery.
Incorporating biblical principles and teachings into the therapeutic process can provide individuals with BPD with a supportive framework that complements evidence-based treatments and enhances their journey to well-being.
Biblical counseling can be a part of a comprehensive treatment plan for BPD. Evidence-based therapies, medication management, and support from mental health professionals are essential components of effective BPD treatment.
Biblical counseling can complement these interventions, harmoniously offering spiritual support and guidance with clinical care.