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Treatment for People with Borderline Parents
Instructor: Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes
Executive Director,
Podcast Host: Counselor Toolbox and Happiness Isn’t Brain Surgery

Counseling CEUs can be earned for this presentation at

~ Review the characteristics of BPD
~ Compare and contrast BPD with addictive behaviors
~ Examine ways to implement the activities presented in the book in a group format
Characteristics of BPD
~ Poorly developed, or unstable self-image, often associated with excessive self-criticism
~ Difficulty recognizing the feelings & needs of others
~ Interpersonal hypersensitivity (i.e., prone to feel slighted or insulted)
~ Perceptions of others tend to focus on negative attributes or vulnerabilities.

Characteristics of BPD
~ Intense, unstable, and conflicted close relationships, marked by mistrust, neediness, and fear of abandonment
~ Close relationships
~ Viewed in extremes of idealization and devaluation
~ Alternating between over involvement and withdrawal.

Effects on Others
~ Feeling inadequate despite best efforts to appease
~ Lack of emotional boundaries
~ Responsible for the parent’s happiness
~ Guilt for personal happiness
~ Difficulty trusting people due to alternations between feeling appreciated and condemned
~ Anxiety because the parent was unpredictable
~ Hypervigilance
I Never Knew It Had A Name
~ Group Activity 1
~ Discuss the function of each symptom for the parent
~ Have participants identify any behaviors they have which may also resemble that symptom
~ Review and refute the take-aways providing practical cognitive and interpersonal skills
~ Group Activity 2
~ Stop & Think: The Lessons are Clear—Review and Refute
All Grown Up
~ Examines the effects of the borderline personality on the living conditions
~ Chaos
~ Abuse and Neglect
~ Boundary Violations
~ Invalidation
~ Role Reversals
~ Looks are Everything
~ Keen Perception
All Grown Up
~ 6 Seeds to Grow a Healthy Child
~ Support
~ Respect and Acceptance
~ Voice
~ Unconditional Love and Affection
~ Consistency
~ Security
All Grown Up
~ Group Activity 1
~ Examine each effect of the Borderline Personality
~ Discuss how each was present in the family of origin
~ Discuss how each is manifested in the client’s current life
~ Identify methods to eliminate those dysfunctional patterns
All Grown Up
~ Group Activity 2
~ 6 Seeds: Discuss how to use those 6 principles to
~ Reparent/nurture self
~ Nurture healthy relationships
~ Group Activity 3
~ Stop and Think: Resiliency Builders
Grieving a Lost Childhood
~ Understand the grieving process
~ Review messages received in childhood about dealing with losses
~ Identif losses and feelings associated with the dysfunctional childhood
~ Identify continuing issues with the borderline/addicted parent
Grieving a Lost Childhood
~ Group Activity
~ Describe what you would have liked your childhood to be like
~ As a group, identify ways to translate that to present day.

Guilt, Responsibility & Forgiveness
~ Identify potential guilt-triggers for the adult child
~ Discuss how guilt works, and what the benefits/motivations for guilt may be
~ Identify and discusses different origins of guilt
~ Encourage identification of what can & cannot be controlled
~ Explore the issues of guilt and responsibility
~ Encourage participants to examine their beliefs related to forgiveness

Guilt, Responsibility & Forgiveness
~ Group Activity 1
~ Complete an ABC worksheet exploring beliefs about guilt.
~ Dispute and Evaluate using the prompts in Stop and Think: Am I Guilty
~ Group Activity 2
~ In the Reframing section, use the concepts about personal responsibility as group discussion starters

Guilt, Responsibility & Forgiveness
~ Group Activity
~ Stop and Think: Taking Ownership–Post these statements on the wall in the group room and refer to them when people are feeling powerless or not taking ownership
~ Group Activity
~ The F-Word: Under the section Why Forgive, there are 7 questions. Have the group process these questions.
Overcoming Anger & Resentment
~ Examine the function of anger and how it works
~ Explore the many faces of anger
~ Discuss ways people cope with anger
~ Encourage people to think about what it means to them to let go of anger
~ Highlight the consequences of anger
~ Provide tools to start managing anger
Overcoming Anger & Resentment
~ Group Activity 1
~ Stop and Think: Reframe Triggers—For each statement, have group members identify an example of when they have felt that way, and use the reframing tools
~ Group Activity 2
~ Identify the different manifestations of anger and effects of each
Communicating and Setting Limits
~ Help clients find the right balance between what they need to do and what they feel like they “should” do when interacting with the BP
~ Develop practical tools for controlling the flow of communication and interaction
~ Use the metaphor of changing the dance from a waltz to a tango to illustrate the concept of changing the relationship
~ Write a personal Bill of Rights
Communicating and Setting Limits
~ Group Activity 1
~ Controlling the Flow: Identify ways that the BP (and others) may violate boundaries. Discuss ways to deal with this and associated feelings of anger, guilt etc.
~ Group Activity 2
~ Define what a healthy relationship with a parent would look like, having each client identify the aspects important to them. Then learn to Tango.
Communicating and Setting Limits
~ Group Activity 3
~ Know Your Rights: For each right the author listed (and any you add) identify what that looks like; how to communicate these needs and wants and how to handle it if those rights are not respected.
~ Group Activity 4
~ Identify BP triggers and their functions and ways to prevent triggering them without sacrificing self
Communicating and Setting Limits
~ Group Activity 5
~ Coping with Resistance & Rages— Role play using different validating phrases like those suggested on page 115.
~ Process after the role play what self-statements (also on page 115) were helpful in retaining composure
~ Note: This is an especially helpful activity to do and even re-do right before holidays or family gatherings.
Reconstructing the Past:
Assessing the Present
~ Examine the different roles people play in their families and how those roles may be being reconstructed in the present.
~ Encourage people to write their autobiography from a reporter’s lens to gain objective insight
~ Present the concept that our parents directly and indirectly communicate messages to us about who we are and should be
~ Challenge people to find positives in the pain
~ Introduce the concept of mindfulness

Envisioning Change
Breaking Old Habits
~ Begin by asking clients to envision the future, while carefully avoiding simply choosing the opposite because it is opposite
~ Encourage people to start taking care of themselves
~ Review thinking errors such as personalization and polarized thinking
~ Discusse how to develop a change plan, prioritizing, maintaining motivation and including sufficient rewards
Envisioning Change
Breaking Old Habits
~ Group Activity 1
~ Have each group member identify one change they are going to make this week and how they are going to do it.
~ Encourage the use of measurable goals and objectives
~ Identify the motivation/reason for making that change
~ Brainstorm and mitigate any obstacles.

Envisioning Change
Breaking Old Habits
~ Group Activity 2
~ Develop a thinking error journal and have group members fill it out for a week, then bring it back to group to process.
Trust Yourself, Set Boundaries
Build Self-Esteem
~ Examine what healthy boundaries look like and how to know if we have them
~ Discuss how to enforce boundaries
~ Begin to explore the concept of self esteem
Putting It All Together
~ Encourages clients to remain aware of old behaviors creeping in and/or new behaviors falling away
~ Remind clients that change is a process that takes not only time, but support
Don’t Forget
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