Get access

Borderline personality disorder: clinicians' accounts of good practice


  • M. BOWEN MA BSc (Hons) RMN

    Corresponding author
    1. Senior Lecturer in Mental Health, Faculty of Health and Social Care, University of Chester, Chester, UK
    Search for more papers by this author

M. Bowen, Faculty of Health and Social Care, University of Chester, Parkgate Road, Chester CH1 4BJ, UK, E-mail:


Accessible summary

  • • There is little research into experiences of good practice by clinicians working with people with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorders.
  • • Clinicians report compassionate and ‘realistic’ attitude towards the service users.
  • • Clinic approach is consistent with a recovery-focused model.


People with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder are relatively high users of inpatient and community services. There is concern, however, that mental health nurses feel negative about working with this group of people, are often socially distancing and feel under-skilled. The purpose of this research was to explore the experiences of good practice among mental health professionals working in a service that provided specialist treatment for this group of service users. The research was undertaken through semi-structured interviews and identified four key themes: shared decision making, social roles, peer support and open communication. These themes are discussed in the context of research in this field, the need for recovery-focused services, and through drawing on the Winnicotian notions of disillusionment and mirroring as key developmental processes.