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Psychother Res. 2017 Sep 25:1-13. doi: 10.1080/10503307.2017.1377358. [Epub ahead of print]

Personality, personality disorders, and the process of change.

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a Department of Psychiatry , Institute of Psychotherapy and General Psychiatry, University of Lausanne , Lausanne , Switzerland.
b Department of Psychology , University of Windsor , Windsor , Canada.



The present paper elaborates a process perspective of change in psychotherapy for personality disorders (PDs). Firstly, the paper reviews the literature of mechanisms of change in treatments of PD, with the main focus on emotional processing and socio-cognitive processing. Secondly, it proposes an illustrative case-series analysis of eight cases, drawn from a mediation analysis conducted within the context of a randomized controlled trial for borderline personality disorder (BPD).


As such, cases with good and poor outcomes are compared, as are cases with poor and good intake features and cases with poor and good process markers across treatment.


The results illustrate possible pathways to healthy change over the course of four months of treatment, and possible pathways of the absence of change.


These results are discussed with regard to three main research perspectives: the combination of qualitative and quantitative methodology in psychotherapy research may be applied to case study research, a neurobehavioral perspective on change may incorporate the individualized experience in the laboratory and therapist responsiveness to patient characteristics may be a core feature of fostering change.


case studies; mechanisms of change; personality; personality disorder; process

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