Types of Therapy Used in the Treatment Of Antisocial Personality Disorder

Personality disorders develop out of ingrained patterns of thinking and behavior with highly charged emotional components. According to Brynmawr College, the complex interplay of emotion, perceptions and behavior make personality disorders in general very difficult to treat.

Antisocial disorder exists as the most common personality type with anywhere from 2.3 to 3.3 percent of the population meeting the criteria for the disorder. People suffering from antisocial personality disorder are driven by purely self-motivated intentions and they will stop at nothing to get what they want.

Therapies used to treat antisocial personality disorder attempt to help those affected identify abnormal behaviors and thought patterns using one or more treatment approaches.

Antisocial Personality Disorder Traits

mental health therapies

Therapy is often effective in helping people overcome the symptoms of antisocial personality.

Societal norms provide the guidelines for acceptable social behavior. These guidelines also help to establish a certain level of order in society. People who have antisocial personality disorder have little to no regard for social norms, especially when these norms run counter to their own personal needs and desires. Not surprisingly, this approach to living makes it extremely difficult for people with this condition to form lasting, genuine relationships with others, according to the US National Library of Medicine.

Traits most commonly displayed by antisocial personality disorder types include:

  • Impatience
  • Low frustration threshold
  • Arrogance
  • Little to no impulse control
  • Controlling
  • Manipulative
  • Deceitful

Cognitive Therapy

Therapies used to treat antisocial personality disorder attempt to help suffers identify destructive thought and behavior patterns as people affected by this condition consider their “way” to be perfectly normal and acceptable.

The cognitive therapy approach sets out to help the antisocial client become aware of the distorted perceptions that drive his or her behaviors. In this way, clients can start to see themselves the way others see them.

As blaming others becomes a running theme within the life of someone with antisocial personality disorder, it’s extremely difficult for them to see themselves through the eyes of others.

Schema Therapy

Schema therapy uses an integrative approach that combines principles and techniques used in other therapies, such as –

  • Gestalt therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Attachment theory
  • Psychoanalytic object relations

When treating antisocial personality, schema therapy attempts to help clients learn how to get their core emotional needs met without having to resort to destructive behavior styles.

The basis of schema therapy centers on a person’s sense of self or self-image. Developing a healthy self-image provides anti-social personality types with a frame of reference (or set of standards) for dealings with others.

Multisystemic Therapy

The multisystemic therapy approach relies heavily on family and community-based influences throughout the treatment process. This approach is commonly used to treat childhood conduct disorder, which incidentally is one of the risk factors that increase a person’s chance of developing antisocial personality disorder.

Since people with antisocial personality disorder tend to have frequent run-ins with the criminal justice system, therapists work closely with parole officers and court systems. As the overall goal of multisystemic therapy attempts to change a person’s pattern of behavior, therapists, parole officers and family members work to ensure the client is held accountable for any unacceptable behavior displays.

Not unlike other personality disorder types, treating antisocial personality can be a challenging endeavor that often requires years of ongoing therapy treatment.


Brynmawr College

U. S. National Library of Medicine


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