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Can Couples Counseling for Borderline Personality Save My Marriage?


Updated February 03, 2009

Question: Can Couples Counseling for Borderline Personality Save My Marriage?
I think that my husband of five years may have borderline personality disorder (BPD). He has never been to a doctor for an evaluation, but from everything I’ve read, the symptoms fit. His behavior is causing major problems in our marriage, but he won’t go see someone himself. He has, however, agreed to try couples counseling. Is couples counseling for borderline personality disorder effective? Do you think it could save my marriage?

You are in a difficult position; you think that your husband may have BPD, but he won’t seek a formal evaluation or individual treatment. While couples counseling is not usually a first choice treatment for BPD, in your case, this may be a good starting point, since this is what your husband will agree to.

There has been no systematic research on couples counseling for borderline personality disorder, but experts are becoming more and more aware of how helpful a stable support network is for people with BPD. Many experts are now recommending couples counseling as a useful addition to the standard BPD treatment regimen. Couples counseling can help to stabilize the couple’s relationship, to educate the non-BPD partner about the disorder and its effects and to help couples make decisions about whether the relationship should continue.

If there are strong indications that your husband has BPD, it may be best to choose a couples therapist who has some experience with personality disorder issues. Couples counseling with a BPD spouse may present unique issues that are best handled by an expert. For more on finding a therapist that meets your needs, see this article on “Finding a BPD Therapist.”


Links PS, Stockwell M. “Is Couple Therapy Indicated for Borderline Personality Disorder?” American Journal of Psychotherapy, 55:491-506, 2001.

Work Group on Borderline Personality Disorder. Practice Guidelines for the Treatment of Patients with Borderline Personality Disorder. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing, 2001.

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