Family Connections

* Family Connections brochure 

* Application to participate in the Family Connections program

Please complete the application form to be added to the waitlist.   When space is available, participants will be contacted 4-6 weeks in advance of the class. Participants are encouraged to visit our resources page in the meantime. 

The current wait time is 6-10 months.

Please note that all classes are currently being held via Zoom due to COVID.  


12-week program designed to provide the adult family members and spouses of individuals with emotion dysregulation or borderline personality disorder with knowledge and skills for their own well-being and for better understanding their loved one.

The program in Ottawa is offered by the Ottawa Network for Borderline Personality Disorder (ON-BPD).


The Family Connections® program is an adaptation of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), an approach that has been shown to help those with BPD, typically led by professionals in medical institutions. The Family Connections® program brings the skills and education into the community and is led by trained volunteers who also have family members with BPD.

Developed by Dr. Alan Fruzzetti and Dr. Perry Hoffman, the program provides current information and research on BPD, teaches coping skills based on dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and helps to develop a support network.

Who Attends

Family Connections® is for parents, spouses, and other adult family members of someone with borderline personality disorder.

ON-BPD offers Family Connections® for people residing within the Ottawa/Carleton area.  Sashbear® offers the same course in other Canadian Regions.  

Who Leads

The leaders are volunteers who have experienced life with a loved one with BPD and received NEA.BPD training on leading the program.


To help participants understand the illness, learn skills, and develop a support network.


Currently, all Family Connections courses are held on Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Classes are held three times each year (fall, winter and spring) on either Saturday mornings (9:30 am - 12:00 pm), Saturday afternoons (1:00 - 3:30 pm) or during a weeknight (6:30 pm - 9:00 pm).  Applicants are added to a waitlist and will be invited to join a class based on availability.  Invitations to attend will be sent to participants approximately 4-6 weeks before the class start date. 


Fill in the on-line application to participate in the Family Connections program


The format of the sessions allows Family Connections® participants to obtain information, acquire and practice the application of skills, and enjoy an open forum for discussion.

The program combines the real life experiences and needs of families of persons with BPD with the expertise of more than two decades of professional work with families.

Group leaders, who are volunteers and family members themselves, have extensive personal experience in this area and have completed the training needed to disseminate and maintain the integrity of the program content.

Course Content

  • Education on BPD
  • Research on BPD
  • Skills-training based on dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) in the context of a supportive group environment
  • Development of a support network

Information Provided

The information presented is based on effective treatment theories and practices, and the latest research findings.


  • Family perspectives and experiences
  • Relationship mindfulness skills
  • Family environment skills
  • Effective communication skills
  • Validation skills
  • Problem management skills

Please note that we frequently have waiting lists for this program.

Note: In order to benefit from the information that is presented each week and to develop the skills, participants must agree to attend each of the 12 classes except in case of emergency. In addition, participants should plan to spend about one to two hours per week on the practice exercises.

What participants have to say about the Family Connections® program.

The Family Connections® course gave us the skill to understand our daughter’s illness. With that knowledge, came understanding and compassion. Without the opportunity to attend this course, we are sure that our daughter’s life would have been much more chaotic and destructive. At the same time, our family relationship may have fragmented in the ensuing despair. However, now we are empowered to manage the effects of BPD with strategy, knowledge, and patience.

Years ago, I wrote: ‘I know I’m not alone in this. I just wish we mothers could connect somehow.’ Well, I have found some other mothers. We found a course for family members. At the very first meeting, as each family shared their stories, my husband and I caught each other’s eye and nodded in recognition. Each week, we had course work and sharing. We laughed and we cried. It has been a godsend. Between the course and the community, I feel much stronger and better able to be an effective parent to our daughter.”

Family Connections® is copyright by the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder, 2002 (NEA.BPD,