Written by Blaise Aguirre and Gillian Galen, Coping with BPD: DBT and CBT skills to soothe the symptoms of borderline personality disorder, is a self help book designed to help those suffering with borderline personality disorder (BPD) to deal with some of the typical challenges that people with BPD experience on a regular basis. By following some well thought out steps the authors believe that interactions with both one’s own emotions and with other people will be easier to successfully deal with in a manner that does not negatively impact the person with BPD or their relationships with other people. The different techniques recommended are based either on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).
The book has a easy to follow layout that introduces a problem such as: Failing to keep commitments, Skipping work or class, or Drinking to address overwhelming feelings, then describes what this problem can look like with a real life example and after that presents different steps to deal with the situation, using techniques from CBT or DBT. Finally, at the end of every problem is a checklist that reminds you of the different steps. The book is short and concise and is written to be a handy in dealing with a number of different problematic situations.
I do enjoy the layout of the book and especially the fact that the authors have used common real life problems and real life examples from other people in therapy. I can see how a person can use this book to address a certain problematic situation by following the steps and by using the checklist as an reminder. What I do find to be on the negative side is the fact that it appears that any person reading this book must have quite extensive previous knowledge of BPD and already know the symptoms typical of this disorder. Other self help books that I have reviewed usually have a section that describes the disorder and lists the criteria for it. I miss that in this book and the only information that describes BPD is mentioned by a Professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioral sciences in the foreword: ”Individuals suffering from borderline personality disorder (BPD) often lead challenging lives. They typically have complicated diagnostic profiles including multiple disorders, intense and erratic interpersonal relationships, and ”failed” multiple treatment trials”, as well as a short note by that authors stating that: ”At its most extreme, BPD is a serious mental illness that manifests with unstable moods, self-destructive behaviors, and volatile relationships” (p. 2).
Without the more detailed information on how people with BPD tend to act and react the problems presented by the authors do not appear particular to BPD, but more appears to be common problems coupled with advice on how to handle the different situations fairly smoothly. As it is now, it is quite difficult for a reader who is not themselves experiencing the feelings typical of those with PBD to understand how these feelings are typical for those with BPD. I do understand that the book is aimed at people with BPD but a person with BPD also needs to have quite extensive prior knowledge of their disorder, and quite a bit of insight, to be able to handle the situation using only the advice at hand.
Having previously reviewed self help books dealing with other disorders, such as depression and narcissistic personality disorder, I feel that this book is a bit more difficult for a person without the disorder to understand. As stated above, I know that this book is aimed at those with BPD, but I do believe that it could be fairly difficult reading for those close to a person with BPD if they would like to help or understand borderline behavior.
I believe that this book might be of help to those who have previously worked at their BPD and has received help from a therapist where the person has gained some previous knowledge or has accepted their condition and wants to really work at improving their mental health.
© 2016 Elin Weiss
Elin Weiss has a Bachelor´s Degree in Psychology and a Master´s Degree in Women´s Studies from University College Dublin.