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Am J Psychiatry. 1992 Mar;149(3):358-62.

An outcome study of psychotherapy for patients with borderline personality disorder.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Westmead Hospital, New South Wales, Australia.



This study evaluated the effectiveness of well-defined outpatient psychotherapy for patients with borderline personality disorder.


Thirty patients with borderline personality disorder diagnosed according to the DSM-III criteria were given twice weekly outpatient psychotherapy for 12 months by trainee therapists who were closely supervised. The treatment approach was based on a psychology of self (this term being used in its broad sense), and strong efforts were made to ensure that all therapists adhered to the treatment model. Outcome measures included frequency of use of drugs (both prescribed and illegal), number of visits to medical professionals, number of episodes of violence and self-harm, time away from work, number of hospital admissions, time spent as an inpatient, score on a self-report index of symptoms, and number of DSM-III criteria (weighted for frequency, severity, and duration) fulfilled.


The subjects showed statistically significant improvement from the initial assessment to the end of the year of follow-up on every measure. Moreover, 30% of the subjects no longer fulfilled the DSM-III criteria for borderline personality disorder. This improvement had persisted 1 year after the cessation of therapy.


The results suggest that a specific form of psychotherapy is of benefit for patients with borderline personality disorder.

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