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Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder
Clearview Girls Academy specializes in providing comprehensive therapy and around-the-clock support for adolescent girls aged 12-18 grappling with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) stemming from trauma or significant life losses. As the leading therapeutic center and boarding school tailored to girls in crisis, Clearview offers a holistic approach incorporating personalized and family therapy sessions.

Explore the following article to gain insight into the emotional and behavioral challenges associated with BPD and other related disorders that your daughter may be facing. 


Borderline Personality DisorderBorderline Personality Disorder in Teens: Signs, Causes, and Treatment

The transition to adulthood is naturally a time of insecurity, shifting relationships, and intense emotions. But for some people, the intensity never lets up. Hypersensitivity to social interactions leads to a persistent pattern of emotional outbursts, unstable relationships, and harmful behaviors. These are all symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) in teens.

Until recently, experts have recommended waiting until personality stabilizes in adulthood before diagnosing an individual with BPD. But given the toll that BPD takes on individuals and their families, not to mention the high rates of suicide associated with the disorder, that advice is changing. Research demonstrates that BPD can be reliably diagnosed in adolescence and that early intervention can change the course of the disorder.

With the right treatment approach, teens with borderline personality disorder can successfully learn to regulate their overwhelming emotions, control self-destructive behavior, and lead a healthy life.

Key Takeaways:

Teen Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is characterized by hypersensitivity to social interactions, leading to a persistent pattern of emotional outbursts, unstable relationships, and harmful behaviors.

Research demonstrates that BPD can be reliably diagnosed in adolescence and that early intervention can change the course of the disorder. 

BPD symptoms sometimes first emerge in childhood, typically increasing with the onset of puberty and worsening with the complex emotional demands of the teenage years.

Successful treatment for BPD includes a variety of approaches that target different aspects of emotional regulation.

What Is Borderline Personality Disorder in Teens?

BPD is one of 10 personality disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5. The term “personality disorder” can be misleading and stigmatizing, as it suggests that someone is broken or inadequate. Rather, a personality disorder refers to a rigid and unhealthy pattern of thinking, functioning, and behaving in response to social and environmental stressors.

People without BPD or other personality disorders may behave in similar ways from time to time. But they have the flexibility to react in different ways. A response pattern is termed “disordered” when it is persistent, inflexible, causes distress, and interferes with a person’s ability to function normally.

The term “borderline” is also not very descriptive. The condition was named by early researchers who regarded BPD symptoms as on the “borderline” between disorders marked by emotional distress and disorders marked by hallucinations or delusions. Hence, some experts have advocated for renaming the condition. You may also see it called Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, Emotional Intensity Disorder, or Borderline Pattern Personality Disorder.

Causes of Teen Borderline Personality Disorder

As with some other mental health disorders, the causes of borderline personality disorder are not fully understood. Undoubtedly, there is a definite mix of environmental and genetic factors. Potential BPD causes include the following:

  1.  Teen BPD Genetic Factors: No specific BPD gene has yet to be identified. Still, studies in twins reveal a strong hereditary link. Thus, scientists conclude that genetics play a role in borderline personality disorder. BPD genetic studies are gaining momentum. However, these preliminary findings await replication. Larger sample sizes and more precise methodologies are needed. Still, per recent scientific models, borderline traits concentrate on families. Such a concentration implies a genetic predisposition for the disorder. Indeed, borderline personality disorder is five times more common with a previous BPD diagnosis in the family.
  2.  Neurological Factors in BPD: People with BPD lack the neural capacity needed to inhibit negative emotions. Thus, the part of the brain that regulates emotions and controls impulses functions differently, leading to BPD symptoms.
  3.  BPD and Teen Trauma: Teens with BPD may have a history of childhood trauma. Often, this trauma includes physical abuse, extreme stress, and/or abandonment—many people with borderline personality disorder report such traumatic life events during childhood. Early exposure to unstable relationships and hostile conflicts is also a potential factor.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Signs and Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder in Teenagers

Until recently, many mental health providers have been reluctant to diagnose BPD before age 18. The symptoms of BPD have some similarities to normal adolescent behaviors, after all, and personality does not solidify until the mid-20s. Moreover, because BPD used to be considered a difficult disorder to treat, many practitioners tried to avoid a label that could be stigmatizing. Research has consistently shown, however, that, unlike other personality disorders, BPD can be reliably diagnosed in adolescents.

Criteria and Symptoms of Teen BPD

According to the DSM-V, a diagnosis of teen BPD requires at least five of the following symptoms to have been present for more than a year. Experts in adolescent BPD recommend treatment when just three or more of those symptoms are present.

  • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
  • A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by extreme shifts between idealization and devaluation (also known as “splitting”)
  • An unstable self-image or sense of self
  • Impulsive harmful behavior in at least two areas (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating)
  • Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, threats, or self-harming behavior
  • Emotional instability in reaction to day-to-day events (e.g., sadness, irritability, or anxiety)
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger
  • Temporary, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms


 Behavioral Signs of BPD in Teens

BPD symptoms sometimes first emerge in childhood. They typically increase with the onset of puberty and worsen with the complex emotional demands of the teenage years. 

With early treatment, those symptoms may wane by early adulthood before they lead to a cascade of other mental health issues and functional impairment. Therefore, many experts recommend proactive treatment even when symptoms do not meet the requirements for a full-blown diagnosis.


Signs of emerging BPD in teens include: 

  • A tendency to see people or situations as black or white
  • Dangerous impulsivity, especially in stressful situations
  • Prone to misreading other people’s emotions
  • Confusion over which thoughts, impressions, fears, and desires are their own and which are someone else’s
  • Angry outbursts that are out of proportion to external circumstances
  • Extreme difficulty talking about their feelings
  • History of conflicts with parents, friends, and siblings


The Link Between Borderline Personality Disorder and Suicide

When it comes to the signs of BPD in teens, there is a prominent threat of self-harm and suicide. Borderline personality disorder includes suicidal or self-injurious behavior among its diagnostic criteria. Furthermore, it is the only personality disorder type that includes such criteria.

About 75 percent of people with borderline personality disorder will make at least one suicide attempt. Even worse, close to 10 percent of people with BPD will die by suicide. Consequently, this rate of death by suicide is 50 times the rate of suicide in the general population. Therefore, it’s critical to ensure the safety of the environment for teens suffering from BPD.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Questions to Help Identify Borderline Personality Disorder in Teens

Are you a parent who suspects that your teen girl might be suffering from teenage borderline personality disorder? There are questions to consider that may help illuminate the situation.

  1. Does your teen see things as black and white to the extreme? Do they define people as all good or all bad?
  2. Is your teen dangerously impulsive? Do they take senseless risks regularly?
  3. Does your teen lack a firm sense of identity? Do they change all the time, almost cycling through personality types?
  4. Does your teen seem incapable of reading emotions?
  5. Does your teen feel crushed when a person leaves? Is their fear of abandonment not reflective of the emotional reality of a situation?
  6. Does the mood of your teen change for no apparent reason? Do these mood shifts seem extreme?
  7. Does your teen exhaust and lose relationships? Are their connections to other people more volatile than expected?
  8. Are your teen’s angry outbursts out of proportion to external circumstances? Is it hard to talk them down?

Many teens without borderline personality disorder can fit these descriptions. This is important to recognize. Yet, answering yes to most of these questions is a red flag. Such answers indicate that proactive steps should be taken toward a professional assessment.

If a sensitive teen girl struggles with a borderline personality disorder, she is not alone. A borderline personality disorder affects close to 14 million Americans.

Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder in Teens

Successful treatment for BPD includes a variety of approaches that target different aspects of emotional regulation. These modalities help heighten awareness of a full range of emotions (positive as well as negative). They also help teens with BPD learn strategies for emotional regulation and coping with stress. Successful treatment options include:

  • Psychoeducation: The more a patient and their family know about the neurological underpinnings of BPD and the role stress plays in the disorder, the better they can “make sense” of distressing feelings and behaviors and take steps to manage difficult emotions.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Theory (CBT) brings clarity and valuable insight to a teen in crisis. CBT identifies the emotions that often result in isolation and helps with the self-defeating thoughts and assumptions that make life more difficult.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy: Developed by psychologist Marsha Linehan to manage her own BPD, DBT targets skills in four areas. These are mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.
  • Attachment-Based Family Therapy: BPD can make connection feel challenging. Therefore, supportive family relationships are so important for an adolescent learning to navigate life with BPD. Attachment-Based Family Therapy helps restore empathy and authentic connection.
  • Stress Reduction Techniques: Every teen girl (and their adults) can benefit from learning ways to soothe the body’s response to stress. However, stress reduction is essential for a teen girl with BPD symptoms.Borderline Personality Disorder

Mental Health Treatment at Clearview Girls Academy for Teens with BPD

If your adolescent girl struggles with symptoms of BPD or another mental health condition, Clearview Girls Academy can help. Our outcomes-driven care helps young girls learn to manage intense thoughts and feelings with healthy coping mechanisms.

Since 1996, young girls have come to Clearview Girls Academy to flourish, think positively about themselves, improve their relationships, and move on to a better future. 

Girl students at Clearview live together in our beautiful lodge and meet regularly with their therapists. Their therapists help them confront fears and gain confidence in a safe, nurturing, and structured environment in the foothills and mountains of northwestern Montana.

Early treatment of BPD has been proven to improve the quality of life in adulthood. Contact us today to learn more about our clinical model and make a positive difference in your teen girl’s mental health and your family’s well-being. We enroll girls year-round. Please call us for more information on how we can help your daughter improve her future at Clearview Girls Academy 




Sources: JAMA Psych. 2021; 78(2): 187–194. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2020 Apr; 22(5): 25. Am J Psychiatry. 2009 May; 166(5): 530–9. Choi-Kain, L. and Sharp, C., ed. Handbook of Good Psychiatric Management for Adolescents with Borderline Personality Disorder. American Psychiatric Association Publishing, 2021.






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residential therapy for girls
residential therapy for girls
residential therapy for girls

residential therapy for girls
residential therapy for girls
residential therapy for girls
residential therapy for girls

We can also help you in your search for other ranches for troubled teens, schools for troubled teens, therapeutic ranches for troubled teens, educational consultants, or military schools. Clearview Residential Therapy and School is a Christian therapeutic boarding school for troubled teenage girls offering teen counseling for girls with adoption issues (attachment issues), self-harm (self-mutilation) or cutting, or eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, anorexia nervosa). Other behavioral issues and disorders we deal with include: defiance, depression, post traumatic stress, abuse, and general anxiety. If you have an out of control girl, please think about Clearview Residential Therapy and School offers teen counseling and teen counselors for troubled girls. We offer counseling for troubled teens and out-of-control teens and especially work with adopted girls with emotional disorders. If you are searching for residential treatment centers for girls, troubled teen schools or troubled teen boarding schools, you have found one. Therapeutic boarding school for girls with teen counseling and therapy like Clearview is also called “schools for troubled teens” or “residential treatment centers.” This is one of the few affordable residential treatment centers and schools for teens. Clearview is an all-girl school that provides troubled pre-teen and teenage girls with counseling and adolescent therapy. The Christian therapeutic residential school for troubled girls serves at-risk girls seeking a therapeutic boarding school in California, on the West Coast, in Oklahoma, in Nevada, or Minnesota, or Washington State, and in Idaho. We use Trust-based Relational Intervention, Dialectic Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Trauma Therapy such as EMDR and Lifespan Integration, Reality Therapy, and Trauma Therapy, plus Neurofeedback and Craniosacral therapy treatments.

Borderline Personality Disorder
Early treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder has been proven to improve the quality of life in adulthood. Contact Clearview today.