Harvard Mental Health Letter

In Brief: Victories over borderline personality disorder

In Brief

Victories over borderline personality disorder

Success in the care and treatment of borderline personality disorder is likely, according to two studies published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in the spring of 2007. One study finds that several kinds of psychotherapy are effective treatments for the disorder; the other concludes that over a longer period, people often recover from it anyway.

In the psychotherapy trial, 62 patients were divided into three groups and randomly assigned for a year to transference-focused therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, or supportive therapy.

Transference-focused psychotherapy (a version of psychodynamic therapy) concentrates on feelings and attitudes derived from earlier relationships that reemerge in the relationship between the patient and the therapist. Dialectical behavior therapy uses various structured techniques and education to help patients regulate their emotions. Supportive therapy provides sympathetic listening, practical feedback, and reassurance. Dialectical behavior therapy and transference-focused therapy were conducted twice a week, supportive therapy once a week.

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