Assessments of personality disorder (PD) by clinicians or researchers are not always congruent with the problems that clients view as most salient. This can result in disagreement over areas for change, leading to dissatisfaction and the risk of treatment attrition.
The sample comprised 141 treatment-seeking adults with PD. Each described the five things they most wanted to change about themselves. These target problems were compared with PD diagnoses obtained from the International Personality Disorder Examination.
The congruence between the clients' target problems and PD traits identified by the professionals was generally weak. Disagreement arose where a client's target problem was not a PD trait and, less frequently, where the client and the professional agreed on the presence of a trait but not on its importance. Surprisingly, doubting the trustworthiness of others was the most commonly reported target problem in this treatment-seeking sample even though many such participants did not qualify for that particular paranoid trait.
Personality disorder diagnoses were generally poor indicators of the problems these clients cited as most important. This lack of correspondence may explain some of the lack of effectiveness of interventions for PD. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.