Approximately 60% of individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) also suffer from severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Left untreated, PTSD increases the risk of suicidal and self-injurious behavior and is likely to interfere with achieving recovery.
Furthermore, individuals struggling with BPD and/or emotion regulation difficulties frequently suffer from comorbid anxiety, depression, and other issues resulting in avoidance of meaningful activities. Research has demonstrated that in 70% of individuals with comorbid BPD and PTSD, successful treatment of PTSD alone causes remission of BPD symptoms.
Avoidance is the major factor that maintains PTSD and prevents recovery. Avoidance is especially prevalent in individuals with higher emotional sensitivity, as they may truly believe that they cannot cope with the emotions that approaching trauma cues will inevitably cause.
The DBT-PE protocol aims to help individuals stop avoiding and instead confront trauma-related thoughts and situations so that they can effectively process their trauma. The DBT-PE program at BCSC integrates state-of-the-art DBT with prolonged exposure to address co-occurring anxiety, depression, PTSD, suicidality, and self-harming behaviors.