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Ten-week Intensive Group Program (IGP) for borderline personality disorder: making the case for more accessible and affordable psychotherapy


Background The availability of specialist psychotherapies for treating borderline personality disorder (BPD) is limited by costs associated with training, resourcing and treatment duration. Developing a programme that incorporates effective strategies from a range of evidence-based specialist treatments, concentrates their delivery and uses a group-based format will improve treatment access.

Objective To assess the short-term clinical efficacy, acceptability and feasibility of a bespoke manualised programme for the treatment of BPD. This 10-week group-based outpatient programme was delivered 2 days per week in 4 hour sessions; participants received 80 hours of treatment in total.

Methods Forty-three participants, many having severe BPD symptomatology, were assessed before and after the 10-week programme using a range of validated self-report questionnaires and a self-appraisal feedback form. The primary outcome measured was BPD symptom severity.

Findings Statistically significant improvements were measured in BPD symptom severity, depression, trait anxiety, emotional regulation, general health, hopefulness, self-compassion and anger, several with moderate to large effect sizes. Many of these improvements remained at 4–6 months post treatment. More than 90% of surveyed participants expressed a moderate or high level of satisfaction with the programme.

Conclusions This integrated treatment programme delivered in a highly concentrated format demonstrated short-term efficacy across many BPD-relevant endpoints; its acceptability was endorsed by most clients.

Clinical implications Incorporation of key aspects of evidence-based treatment using a time-intensive group format could greatly enhance the capacity of mental health services to meet the needs of people who experience BPD within a population-based mental health service framework.

  • adult psychiatry
  • personality disorders
  • suicide & self-harm

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