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Support Groups for People Diagnosed with BPD

It’s been a long time since my last blog because I felt I had run out of things to say about BPD. However, since working in peer support work for the past year with a caseload that comprises of 75% women with BPD, I thought it prudent to resurrect my blog because I now have lots more to say both now and in subsequent blogs and I also need your valuable input for something I feel is incredibly exciting.

In Western Australia, we have no non-clinical psychologist run Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) services for BPD sufferers. We do have three teams in the metropolitan area of Perth run by fantastic, dedicated clinical psychologists who are the only MH professionals able to deliver this service. This is not nearly enough though. Only a small percentage of people can get help in this public sector which means they don’t have to pay. Medicare-refunded therapy (mostly with a considerable gap payment) is six sessions per year, an extra four if there are exceptional circumstances. Seeing as many people with BPD are on disability pensions, unemployed or under-employed, self-payment is not an option.

The new Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of People with BPD by the National Health and Medical Research Council states that “Health professionals at all levels of the healthcare system and within each type of health service, including general practices and emergency departments, should recognise that BPD treatment is a legitimate use of healthcare services. Having BPD should never be used as a reason to refuse health care to a person.”

It is great that this is finally recognised but the reality is that long term clinical and non-clinical treatment options are simply not widely available in Western Australia. Through my role as a peer support worker I am hoping to start up a non-clinical self-help support and friendship group under the existing umbrella of government and non-government services. My long-term vision is to be trained and train others in DBT skills to set up other groups all over the Perth metropolitan and even rural areas. I have the backing of my team leader and manager of the organisation I work for.

My recovery from BPD has been a profound experience. I want to pass on that recovery process to the participants of the programme I work in and others who would otherwise be not able to access services. The group I am proposing to develop will be based on Dialectical Behaviour Therapy skills and strategies as well as individual strengths and goals.

In the two hour, once weekly group (consisting of six attendees and two facilitators consisting of one peer support worker and one professional) there will be an educational informational half and a caring and sharing half. It will be probably be obligatory for all attendees to have some previous DBT exposure mainly for risk management reasons. There will also be house rules and group norms and sharing guidelines and this will serve as an adjunct to clinical BPD services.

I am very excited about this and have the enthusiasm, support and help of like-minded others. So here is what I am asking you.

What would you like and not like to see in a self-help friendship group for people with BPD?
What BPD services are available or not available in your area, no matter what part of the world?
Were these services enough or not enough for you?


Support Groups for People Diagnosed with BPD

Sonia Neale

Sonia Neale was recently awarded the Inaugural Barbara Hocking SANE Australia Fellowship to study and research Borderline Personality Disorder overseas in the USA, Canada, UK and Ireland. Her previous Psych Central blog was called Therapy Unplugged. She is the author of two books, The Bad Mother’s Revenge and Death by Teenager, both published by ABC Books/Harper Collins. She lives in Western Australia, is married with three adult children, has studied psychoanalytic psychotherapy, has a Certificate IV in Mental Health and is studying for a Psychology/Counselling degree. She currently works as a peer support worker in the mental health field.

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APA Reference
Neale, S. (2019). Support Groups for People Diagnosed with BPD. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2020, from


Last updated: 30 Mar 2019
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