The Use of CBT for Dependent Personality Disorder

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Why CBT Works for DPD

Doctors often suggest the use of CBT for Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD). CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) is effective for many emotional disorders and personality disorders, including OCD hoarding, because they are defined by unhealthy and even inaccurate beliefs and their resultant actions.Dependent personality disorder is also based on the unhealthy belief of worthlessness without others, as well as the actions that result from this belief. For this reason, CBT is often recommended for people who have DPD.

Techniques Used in CBT

Several CBT techniques seem to improve the functioning of people with DPD. Mainly, the therapist encourages patients to consider the various inaccurate or dichotomous attitudes and assumptions that they may have. For example, they may think that if they have not lived up to their extremely high expectations for themselves, then they are complete failures. The therapist will help them to identify this assumption and discuss it logically, pointing out the fallacies in it. They may give patients a “core belief worksheet” on which they can list their negative beliefs, as well as both experiences they have had that prove those beliefs wrong and possible alternatives for those beliefs. The therapist can play a major role in helping the patient think of different ways of reacting - and even of thinking - when placed in a familiar circumstance that normally triggers an unhealthy response.

Patients may also be encouraged to keep diaries of their thoughts, experiences, or breakthroughs. These can help them hold onto the progress that they have made, as well as give them a chance to look at their own thoughts and actions with a more objective eye. Patients may also benefit from both relaxation exercises and assertiveness training. Both of these can help people who have had DPD to become more decisive and to practice the social skills that they struggle with the most.

Weaning Off CBT

Although CBT can be extremely helpful for people with DPD, they can also become reliant on it. After all, they are predisposed to relying on others to solve their problems, and their therapist can become just another one of those “others.” Therefore, it is important for therapists to allow patients to wean off of CBT as they become more self-confident. One way of doing this is to use group therapy as a substitute for traditional CBT, which can help the person who had DPD to develop different types of relationships that are not dependent on one person. In addition, even after the CBT sessions stop, the therapist may suggest the use of booster sessions. These sessions, given infrequently, can provide enough support without encouraging too much reliance on the therapy process.

In summary, the use of CBT for Dependent Personality Disorder - as well as helpful for other conditions such as conduct disorder, can be helpful if the proper techniques are used.


This post is part of the series: Uses of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a combination of cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy. It focuses on the fact that your thoughts control your behavior, and that you can control your thoughts. This series contains articles about how CBT can help treat several different disorders.

  1. How can Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Help With Conduct Disorder Symptoms?
  2. How is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Used for Dependent Personality Disorder?