Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Colin Hollidge


Social Work


Personality disorders in general, and borderline personality disorder specifically, are one of the most commonly treated patients in outpatient mental health clinics. As such, this is a population within clinical practice that all mental health professionals will encounter, and will benefit from knowledge of best available treatment options. Over the past 15 years, numerous studies on different types of psychoanalytically informed psychotherapies have been done. Through attachment theory, self psychology, and psychodynamic concepts in general, promising new treatment approaches have been developed and researched. New treatment approaches for personality disorders in particular are important because personality disorders have long been thought to be conditions that are difficult, if not impossible, to treat. This systematic review examined peer-reviewed journal articles and research studies from the past ten years. Types of studies included were systematic reviews, meta analyses, random controlled trials, and cohort studies. Studies were focused on adult populations with a diagnosed personality disorder, and without other comorbid mental health conditions. The results of this study indicate that psychodynamic psychotherapy is an effective intervention for people with personality disorders. Two specific types of psychodynamic psychotherapy, Mentalization Based Treatment and Transference Focused Treatment, showed positive results for people with personality disorder. Positive results included improvements such as reduction of suicidality, and improved interpersonal and global functioning, as well as reduction of borderline personality disorder symptoms. At the time of follow up, a majority of participants in both Mentalization Based and Transference Focused treatments no longer met the diagnostic criteria for personality disorders.

Included in

Social Work Commons