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Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 1999 Aug;33(4):467-72; discussion 478-81.

Psychotherapy with borderline patients: I. A comparison between treated and untreated cohorts.

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  • 1Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Sydney, Westmead Hospital, New South Wales, Australia.



The aim of this study is to compare the clinical outcome of patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD) who had received outpatient psychotherapy for 1 year with BPD patients who received no formal psychotherapy for the same period.


Thirty patients with BPD were treated by trainee psychotherapists working according to clearly described therapeutic principles. They received intensive audiotaped supervision. Patients were seen twice weekly for 1 year. They were compared with 30 patients subsequently referred to the clinic, for whom no therapist was available and who remained on a waiting list for 1 year, receiving their usual treatment. The outcome measure was a score derived from DSM criteria. It was taken at the beginning and end of the year's treatment, in the former case, and after at least 1 year on the waiting list in the latter. (The average waiting period was 17.1 months.)


Patients who received psychotherapy were significantly improved in terms of the DSM score. Thirty percent of treated patients no longer fulfilled DSM-III criteria for BPD. The untreated patients were unchanged.

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