Many of the students at Compass Rose exhibit Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) traits. The DSM-5 describes borderline personality disorder (BPD) as “a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity, beginning in early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts” (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Symptoms can include but are not limited to: difficulty with interpersonal relationships, unstable and reactive mood, impulsivity, chronic feelings of emptiness, and stress-related paranoia. This can be a challenging situation for families to navigate, as society has unfortunately stigmatized mood disorders like BPD as unresolvable dysfunction.

Although there is no cure for BPD, there are effective treatment modalities available to manage symptoms. One such treatment is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), an evidence-based approach that has been shown to reduce symptoms and improve their management. According to research, up to 77% of individuals no longer met the criteria for BPD after one year of treatment with DBT (MHS Online). This is a significant development for those with borderline personality traits, as it demonstrates that addressing trauma symptoms and maladaptive behaviors can lead to healing.

As believers, we can find encouragement in Isaiah 41:10,  which says, “Do not fear: I am with you; do not be anxious: I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” BPD should not be seen as a death sentence, and it is important to break down the stigma surrounding this disorder every day by trusting in God’s guidance.

At Compass Rose, our primary objective is to help adolescents recognize the underlying factors contributing to their maladaptive behaviors. Individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder frequently experience hopelessness, fear of abandonment, and an unstable sense of self, leading them to act out in extreme ways in a desperate effort to establish connections. Our growth model at Compass Rose employs a distinctive approach to get to the “roots” of Borderline Personality Disorder, offering exceptional benefits to those living with the condition.

How the Growth Model Addresses BPD


Bonding plays a pivotal role within our program, as it empowers students to confront deep trust-related wounds, cultivate meaningful connections with others, embrace vulnerability, and enrich their capacity to relate authentically. For individuals grappling with BPD, navigating interpersonal relationships can be particularly challenging. However, by acquiring the skills to foster new, healthy connections, we offer a transformative opportunity for those living with this condition to embark on a revitalizing journey of connection and personal growth.


Boundaries serve as a crucial framework that establish expectations for both oneself and others, creating a definitive and empowering stance that effectively counteracts self-destructive tendencies. They play a vital role in defining healthy behaviors within relationships, establishing a solid foundation that fosters emotional well-being and preserves personal integrity. Particularly for individuals who may struggle with setting limits as seen in borderline personality disorder, boundaries provide a much-needed structure that promotes stability, self-care, and improves one’s ability to be in relationship with others.


The concept of reality serves as a profound and indispensable element that guides students towards self-acceptance, fosters an understanding of the intricate tapestry of the world, and encourages compassion towards others they encounter. For students with BPD traits, their perception of reality can become distorted, rendering this component even more difficult. By delving into the depths of reality, we aim to instill a transformative realization: that one’s self-worth is not confined to a simplistic approach of being wholly good or bad. Through this exploration, students gain an understanding of their multifaceted nature and embrace the beautiful complexities that make them uniquely human, connecting them to themselves and bringing them back to “reality”. 


Competence, the final pillar within our program, bestows students with the tools and confidence to wholeheartedly embrace their roles in society and seize control of their own destinies. This transformative character capacity empowers individuals with BPD to not only navigate the challenges they have encountered but also to transcend them, forging ahead on a path of personal growth and resilience. By cultivating competence, we equip students with the necessary skills, knowledge, and mindset to navigate the challenges of life with grace and determination. It enables them to hold steadfastly onto their identities, refusing to be defined solely by their conditions, and instead, embracing their inherent strengths and unique qualities. Through this journey, students discover their own capabilities, unlocking their full potential and paving the way for a future in which they can thrive and make meaningful contributions to the world around them.

In conclusion, breaking the stigma surrounding borderline personality disorder and its traits is of utmost importance. By dispelling misconceptions and promoting understanding, we create a society that fosters compassion, acceptance, and support for individuals living with BPD. This not only allows for improved access to appropriate care and resources, but it also empowers those with BPD to seek help without fear of judgment or discrimination. Furthermore, destigmatizing BPD encourages open dialogue, reducing shame and promoting awareness about the condition’s complexities. By challenging stereotypes and promoting empathy, we pave the way for healing, one teenager at a time. 

Ashton Burton, LCSW
Therapist for Compass Rose Academy