This month, we’re talking with systemic psychotherapist Deirdre Hayes about her work at MyMind, borderline personality disorder and dialectical behaviour therapy.

Read about Deirdre’s work at MyMind and her knowledge of BPD in the first instalment of this interview here. Next week, the second instalment will discuss dialectical behaviour therapy and its accessibility in Ireland.

Can you tell me about yourself and your work at MyMind?

I’m a systemic psychotherapist. I trained as a family therapist. I have quite a chequered background in terms of my cultural experience – I’ve worked in Russia, China, Denmark, Germany and, most recently, Singapore. I came back to Ireland a couple of years ago and started work last year with MyMind, seeing individuals and couples.

Something that is becoming prevalent in Ireland right now is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Could you give me a brief description?

Although BPD has been recognised for a number of years, nobody truly knew what it was. It just felt like a kind of scary diagnosis. Therapists might say, “I don’t know if I can work with somebody with BPD.” People with BPD would get classified as “difficult” patients. But recently, we became more aware of it, because the development of treatment for people with BPD was promulgated by a particularly interesting psychologist called Marsha Linehan. BPD is described as people who have, at the extreme end, suicidal thoughts; they might be hospitalised multiple times a year for self-injurious behaviour, such as overdosing or cutting. They basically have a wish to die and feel acute depression that doesn’t lift. These people are often bewildered and depressed and find it difficult to manage everyday existence.

What interested you about BPD?

What interested me was Marsha Linehan and her Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), so you could say I came at it from the treatment end rather than the diagnostic end. I found that some of the methods in DBT were useful for any patient. DBT helps a lot of people with their daily lives and their life experience. Often, those with symptoms like those of BPD are in mental hospitals, but I would say that there are many people that you could call the “walking wounded.” These are people who are getting through life, somehow – they’re not in and out of hospital all the time. They’re functioning, they’re working, they’re in relationships, but they need some help with managing depression, anxiety and other things in life which are interfering with full enjoyment of life. So that’s where I started using DBT.

Check back next week to read the second instalment of our interview with Deirdre where we will discuss dialectical behaviour therapy and its accessibility in Ireland.