This is Your Brain on DBT – Strengthening the PFC and Amygdala in People with BPD

In their book Mindfulness for Borderline Personality Disorder, doctors Blaise Aguirre, MD and Gillian Galen, PsyD discuss how certain mindfulness exercises affect and strengthen two key areas of the brain that are affected in a person who suffers from BPD: the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala. Over time, such exercises can help to retrain the brain to be able to better handle emotions.  I’ve seen this in my own life and practice these exercises regularly.

They note: “Mindfulness practice that focuses on paying attention activates the prefrontal cortex [PFC], the part of the brain that doesn’t seem to work all that well in BPD…these practices will strengthen attentional circuits in your PFC and reduce the reactivity of your amygdala” (Aguirre & Galen, 2013, p.48).

For going on three years, I’ve been blogging about the real-world practical applications of these skills in my life, and recently I began helping to bring these skills to the world in an additional way.

By now many of you know that I co-facilitate online, globally available DBT classes alongside licensed therapist Alicia Paz, MA, LPC at DBT Path.  These skills have helped me to radically change my life for the better, and it is my great pleasure to be able to serve in this capacity other emotionally sensitive people who want to learn these skills.   I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing so on my own, as I am a peer and not a doctor or therapist, so it’s fantastic that Alicia and I have joined forces. Those who have already taken some of our classes say we make a pretty good team. We genuinely care about the people we serve and build a real sense of community in our groups.

If you’re wondering what it’s like to take an online DBT class with us, here’s some information:

  • Course Length: Courses are intensive and are 4-weeks in length
  • Teachers/Group Facilitators: We offer a supportive format that is co-facilitated by a licensed therapist and a peer.  
  • Weekly Live Group Online: Each week, we meet once for online “live” group sessions where we answer your questions and you can share your experience with learning and practicing the skills. If for some reason you are unable to attend the live sessions (for example, if you’re in a time zone that would make the classes be in the middle of the night for you — although we have had students in Japan and Australia attend at these odd hours!), no worries. While we highly recommend participating in real-time in the once weekly live sessions, if you simply cannot, a recorded version of the class will be available within 24-hours, and you can listen to it at your leisure.
  • Lectures: Each week you are emailed links to video lectures by Alicia and myself as well as text lectures and links to supplemental materials
  • DBT Skills Coaching: Each week you will have access to DBT skills coaching via email to support you in learning and practicing the skills.
  • Certificate of Completion: Upon completion of each course, upon request we will email you a certificate of completion that you can keep for your records that acknowledges your participation and accomplishment.
  • Required Texts: Some classes have required texts, for others, the texts are optional. You can get the book(s) at your local bookstore, online, or use the electronic (i.e. Kindle) versions if you prefer.

If you’re committed to the process and willing to work hard, you will probably see some real changes in your life as you shift from sabotaging to learning new ways to cope with intense emotions. I know I did and continue to do so.

We’re getting ready for classes that start on September 9th and the 11th, and new classes open up every four weeks. We hope to see you in class!

Visit us now at

Thanks for reading.
More soon.

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