Personality disorders are a complex and varying category of mental health diagnoses. If your teen has been diagnosed with one, how can you best cope and, in turn, help them?
Understand the Diagnoses
Since personality disorders vary greatly, it is important to understand the type of disorder your teen has been diagnosed with. There are three common cluster groups typically assigned to different disorders:
- Cluster A: eccentric thoughts and behavior disorders
- Cluster B: amplified thoughts and behavior disorders
- Cluster C: disorders based in fear
Understanding which type your teen has can help you apply the most beneficial coping mechanisms to their unique and personal situation.
Set Short-Term, Realistic Goals
Progress takes time and can often be challenging. It’s important to set tangible, realistic goals with your teen as they build strategies for coping positively with their personality disorder. For example, solutions that seem large or overwhelming can be broken down into smaller changes. In addition, it’s appropriate and healthy to set clear boundaries and expectations with your teen. With that in mind, don’t forget to continue supporting your teen if they lose confidence or enter a crisis, as a fear of abandonment can be debilitating.
Learn How to Manage Crisis When it Happens
Crises will happen. Accepting this reality and learning how to address crises in positive ways can help your teen cope with their personality diagnosis. First, it’s important to speak openly about crises. Remaining silent only increases stigma and hinders recovery. Your teen also needs to be heard, so aim to avoid aggression and defensiveness in times of conflict. Seek appropriate professional help in a calm way, keeping in mind that self-destructive behaviors require attention. Finally, when seeking solutions and ways to move forward, always be sure to collaborate with the teen to encourage a sense of autonomy over their own diagnosis.
Seek Professional Assistance
There are many options for therapy and recovery for teens living with a personality disorder including Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Talk to your family doctor about available options and what might be best for your teen.
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