personality disorder

We all have different ways of thinking, feeling and behaving and these are the parts that make us who we are, our personality. We don’t always react in the same way, as our thoughts, feelings and behaviours will often depend on the situation. But most of the time, we behave in quite a predictable way, or pattern. It is these patterns that make up our personality and describe us as kind, shy, selfish, ambitious, loving and so on.

As we mature, our thoughts, feelings and behaviours will start to change. Though generally, our personality will not. Instead, it will develop as we grow old, face new experiences and learn how to cope with life challenges. If you are suffering with a personality disorder however, you may find this difficult.

Living with a personality disorder may mean your thoughts, feelings and behaviours are more difficult to understand and manage. This may mean your attitudes and actions are different from others. People may not understand this, which can leave you feeling low and insecure.

Counselling for personality disorders will help you understand your thoughts and behaviours better. You will learn how to focus on your beliefs, understand how to control your emotions and learn how to manage symptoms. It is important to talk about what you are going through, whether it be with a friend, family member or suitably qualified professional. While there are many different treatment options available, it will depend on your situation. Your counsellor will work with you to understand and decide which one will be most effective.

Seeking help

An important part of your treatment is the relationship between you and the professional. Having someone who you trust and know will support, listen and believe in you is crucial in making sure you are getting the most out of your treatment.

Personality disorders will usually become noticeable in adolescence and continue into adulthood. You may find it hard to build and maintain relationships and you may struggle to work with other people effectively. Living with a personality disorder can leave you fearing other people. This can often lead to social isolation and in turn, leave you feeling alienated from others.

Yet with the right support and information, you can begin to understand what you are going through. You can learn how to build relationships, understand others, cope with your feelings and live a fulfilling life.

A personality disorder can show itself in different ways. There are currently 10 known types of personality disorder, which can be grouped into three clusters:

Cluster A personality disorders

According to the NHS, someone with a cluster A personality disorder may find it difficult to relate to others. They may show behaviour patterns that other people may describe as “odd or eccentric”. The personality disorders within cluster A include:

  • paranoid personality disorder

  • schizoid personality disorder

  • schizotypal personality disorder.

Cluster B personality disorders

If someone is diagnosed with a cluster B personality disorder, they may struggle to regulate their emotions. Those with a cluster B personality disorder may be described as "erratic".

  • antisocial personality disorder

  • borderline personality disorder

  • histrionic personality disorder

  • narcissistic personality disorder.

Cluster C personality disorders

Personality disorders included in cluster C are those in which anxious and fearful behaviour is central. Individuals with these personality disorders are often regarded as “antisocial and withdrawn”. Cluster C personality disorders include:

  • dependent personality disorder

  • avoidant personality disorder

  • obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

Treatment for personality disorders

The form of treatment offered to you and how effective the treatment is will depend on both the severity of your condition and what is available in your local area. Generally, treatment will involve a course of psychological therapy. This may include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or psychotherapy. Treatment usually lasts at least six months, but this will depend on your situation.

Your counsellor or psychotherapist will aim to help you regulate your thoughts, emotions and understand yourself better. Often sufferers will find that their personality disorder improves as they age. This suggests perhaps that as they grow older, they gain more life experience and develop a better understanding of how to manage and live with their responses and interactions with others.

It is this interaction with others that many people with a personality disorder find difficult, but it is also an area that counselling and psychotherapy can address. Some sufferers will unknowingly stir up emotions in others. A professional can help work through this, usually through suitable supervision and by providing an opportunity to talk in a safe, non-judgemental environment.

Specifically, psychotherapy and CBT are considered to be among the most effective treatment methods.