How Counseling Can Help Individuals With Personality Disorders

For thousands of years, humans have devised different ways to quantify personality. Among the existing methods is physiognomy. Physiognomy examines facial expressions to determine personality. It is similar to morphopsychology, the study of human facial features and compositions. 

While face reading has been predominantly explored during the 1930s, it was not widely accepted as a discipline. However, practitioners who have mastered it offered important insights for the development of personality theories.

Each individual has unique characteristics and personality traits. Your genetic makeup determines some parts of your personality from the beginning. As you grow up, various factors influence your character development. All of these factors can also contribute to the development of personality disorders. Read on to know what personality disorders are and how counseling can help address these conditions.

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What Is A Personality Disorder

Personality refers to an individual’s unique patterns of feeling, behaving, and thinking. Environmental and social experiences and inherited characteristics influence these. Throughout a person’s lifetime, their personality usually stays over time.  

Personality disorders are maladaptive ways of behaving, thinking, and feeling. These are long-term behavioral patterns and experiences that significantly differ from societal expectations. Individuals with personality disorders deviate from the cultural norm. Their behavior usually causes distress and problems in social functioning, which can last over time. When left unmanaged, personality disorders significantly impair:

  • Emotional response
  • Ability to relate to other people
  • Thoughts about oneself or other people
  • Ability to control one’s overall behavior
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Common Types Of Personality Disorders

To be diagnosed with a personality disorder, an individual must display patterns of the behavioral characteristics of that particular condition. This characterization must be consistent throughout a person’s lifetime. These personality traits can also indicate some emotional disturbance from specific stressors or issues only. This is what differentiates personality disorders from anxiety and mood disorders.

The DSM has three categories of personality disorders, each with its distinguishing feature: 

Cluster A Personalities

Odd and eccentric personality features characterize this cluster.

  • Schizotypal Personality Disorder – People with schizotypal personalities have distorted and eccentric behavior. This also translates to their way of beliefs and way of thinking. Additionally, they also have a pattern of being very uncomfortable in relationships.
  • Schizoid Personality Disorder – A person with a schizoid personality detaches from his or her social relationships. They also have little emotional expression. With this, they may deliberately choose to be alone and not engage with other people.
  • Paranoid Personality Disorder – Individuals with this personality are always suspicious of others. They perceive other people as deceitful, spiteful, and harmful towards them. This is why they may find it difficult to be close with other people.
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Cluster B Personalities 

Dramatic, erratic, and extremely emotional behaviors characterize this cluster.

  • Histrionic Personality Disorder –  A person with a histrionic personality has patterns of excessive emotion. They also have extreme attention-seeking behavior. So they can be very uncomfortable if they are not the center of attention. 
    • Antisocial Personality Disorder – Antisocial individuals may seem to have little regard for other people’s welfare. They lack the empathy to relate to other people. Antisocials are also portrayed as sociopaths or psychopaths in popular media. However, note that having this condition does not necessarily lead to violent tendencies.
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder – Individuals diagnosed with narcissistic personality have a high need for admiration. They have a grandiose sense of their importance and entitlement. With this, they manifest a lack of empathy towards others. 
  • Borderline Personality Disorder – People with borderline personality have patterns of being unstable in interpersonal relationships. Abandonment preoccupies them, making them impulsive and reactive at times.

Cluster C Personalities 

Anxious or fearful qualities of personality characterize this cluster.

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – A person who has OCD has a pattern of being preoccupied with perfection. They may have an unhealthy obsession with orderliness and control. This behavior will disrupt their time for leisure, relationships, or for themselves.
  • Dependent Personality Disorder – Individuals who have dependent personalities are submissive and dependent on others. They have a pattern of needing to be overly taken care of. With this, they have difficulties in decision-making without assurance from others.
  • Avoidant Personality Disorder – Clinically, avoidant people have a pattern of extreme shyness and feelings of inadequacy. They may also be overly sensitive towards criticism.

How Counseling Can Help

Counseling primarily helps in diagnosing and identifying symptoms. Counselors must conduct a series of personality tests to confirm that the traits match the condition. They also determine how serious your personality disorder might be.

After diagnosing, they will devise a treatment plan. Psychotherapy is an effective method to treat personality disorders. This way, you can gain an understanding of your mental condition. Discussing thoughts, feelings, and behavior helps you learn how to manage your daily life. Whether in relationships or professional careers, counseling may help in dealing with any condition’s symptoms.

Some common types of therapy for personality disorders include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • Psychoanalytic therapy

An individual with a personality disorder must actively participate in their treatment. Counselors will provide them with coping strategies to deal with the difficulties due to their condition. They will also teach their patient how to perform self-care.

Most importantly, counseling can help them address the stigma towards their personality disorder. One of the most common reasons why these individuals do not consult mental health professionals is stigma. It can be a barrier to treatment and the willingness of the person to seek help. The counselor should reassure them that there is nothing wrong with getting professional help for their condition.

Counseling can help an individual recognize how to manage and treat their disorder. It is helpful to both the patient and the people around them. In the long run, counseling can help a patient live life as normally as possible.