Treatment options for Teens With Borderline Personality Traits

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a very challenging and complex disorder to treat. Dr. Blaise Aguirre, a recognized child and adolescent researcher of BPD, states that about 11% of clients with the disorder end up in outpatient settings, while about 20% are in inpatient settings with a comorbid diagnosis. For example, someone with BPD may also have severe depression or anxiety.

Last week we discussed borderline personality traits in adolescents with explosive tempers, over-reactive responses, and roller coaster emotions. This week we’ll look at treatment options for adolescents who are exhibiting borderline personality traits and how to identify some of the correct treatments available.


Living with or trying to help treat an adolescent with explosive emotions can feel like an impossible task for everyone involved. There are no quick fixes and therapy sessions (both individual and family) can often end in firestorms. There is no easy way around it. One of the most difficult “symptoms” of BPD traits in adolescents that places a strain on relationships is the fear of being left alone, disliked, or separated. The individual might constantly believe or state “no one likes me” or “I am unloved in this family.”  At other times, this same individual might make a contrary statement such as “I always feel loved by my family” or “I am so happy to be in love with you.” It’s almost as if the individual engages in a perpetual cycle of clinging to others and distancing themselves from others. It’s sometimes difficult to determine how that person actually feels about you or perceives you.

For adolescents who are pursuing romantic relationships, they often experience a volcano of emotions that leads to more harm, in many cases, than good. For many teens experiencing BPD traits, romantic relationships often take a very lethal turn including suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and even homicidal thoughts and attempts. The teen who is very fearful of being left alone or rejected, engages in a series of behaviors that makes the relationship more unstable than it should be. The teen almost becomes desperate in their search for meaning, control, and reassurance. They become close to the person and then distant. This distancing and clinging to others may also include the individual idealizing someone, feeling helpless when they are not around, and in the case of teens experiencing their first “crush,” expressing their “undying love” for their object of desire. This same teen might then change in their emotions at the very moment they feel rejected or do not understand why someone needs personal time alone.

While trying to survive in this whirlwind of confusion and relational tension, the individual may resort to suicidal behaviors, riskiness, substance abuse, or impulsivity. It is not only the romantic relationships that are often affected by the adolescent’s BPD traits, but also their relationship with parents, teachers, coaches, siblings, in-laws, cousins, and others alike. For many families, it will be important to pursue the right kind of treatment in order to tackle this emotional monster correctly. There are various treatment options available but the right option is the key to this complex disorder.


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