Treatment for personality disorders

Describes treatment options available for dealing with personality disorders and offers some insight on how they can be helpful.

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What treatments are available?

There are many treatment options that can help you if you experience a personality disorder. These include:


There aren’t any medications specifically approved for treating personality disorders. However, it’s common for individuals with personality disorders to also experience other mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, or psychosis, and they might be given medication for these issues.

These medications could include antidepressants, antipsychotics or mood stabilisers.

Before starting any medication, ensure you gather all the necessary information to make an informed and confident decision about taking any medication. Speak to your healthcare professional to ask any questions you may have.

Can things get better for me?

Many think that changing one’s personality is impossible. But, research tells us this isn’t true. With the right help and some time, things can definitely improve.

Talking therapies

Further research is needed to identify which talking therapies are effective for those with personality disorders. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which provides guidance on healthcare best practices, recommends the following talking therapies as potentially beneficial:

  • Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT): Specifically designed for treating Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), DBT combines individual and group therapy to teach skills for managing emotions. For more details, see our DBT information pages.
  • Mentalisation-Based Therapy (MBT): This long-term therapy aims to enhance your ability to understand your own and others’ mental states. It encourages you to reflect on your thoughts about yourself and others to determine their accuracy.

Therapeutic Communities

Therapeutic communities are programmes where you join a group to support each other’s recovery, guided by a facilitator. Many of these communities are residential, typically located in large houses, where you may stay for the whole or part of the week. The activities offered can range from various forms of individual or group therapy to household tasks and social events. The Consortium for Therapeutic Communities offers a list of such communities across the UK.

Having a say in your treatment

A crucial part of your treatment is the relationship you build with the professionals supporting you – whether they are social workers, psychiatric nurses, therapists, or psychiatrists. Successful treatment also relies on your active participation and expressing your views. You should expect to:

  • Have a say in your treatment: Your GP or psychiatrist should talk through all the treatment options with you, ensuring your opinions and preferences are considered in any decisions regarding your care. For more information on expressing your views, check out our pages on seeking help for a mental health problem.
  • Be involved in your care plan: A care plan is a mutual agreement between you and your healthcare team about your treatment goals. It should outline the issues you need help with, any treatments you might require, and include a plan for potential crises

When might I not be able to choose my treatment?

There could be times when you’re not able to make choices about your treatment, such as if you:

  • Are detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act: This is sometimes known as being “sectioned.”
  • Lack mental capacity: This means you’re seen as too unwell to make informed decisions about your care in specific situations.
  • Are being treated following a court order: This might happen if you’ve committed an offence.
  • Are under a Community Treatment Order (CTO): This involves being given supervised treatment while living in the community.

Where can I get treatment?

Whether you can access a particular treatment depends on your location. To receive treatment via the NHS, you should initially see your GP, who can direct you to your local community mental health team (CMHT) for evaluation.

In certain areas, there are services that permit you to contact them directly to request treatment, known as self-referral. For guidance on self-referring, you can speak with your CMHT.

If you’re treated by the NHS, your care should follow NICE guidelines, which recommend:

  • Anyone who might have a personality disorder ought to undergo a detailed assessment by a mental health professional before receiving a diagnosis.
  • You should be involved in choosing your treatment. If the treatment you’re receiving isn’t what you believe would benefit you the most, speaking to an advocate could be helpful.

Can I expect to receive the support I need in a crisis?

Sadly, due to the strain on services, there’s a chance that the care available in your area may not immediately be what you find most beneficial.
It’s understandably aggravating and challenging when the support you need isn’t available right when you need it. This is the reason we’re actively working to enhance crisis care nationwide.

Can I go private?

The wait for therapy through the NHS can be long. If you’re in a hurry to get help and can pay for it, or if you want a therapist who knows a lot about what you’ve been through, you could consider going to a private counsellor or psychotherapist.

Get support

Talk with a trained professional about your thoughts and feelings with out free counselling and private counselling service for people over the age of 18.

Counselling Private Counselling