Psychotherapy of borderline personality disorder


  • M. C. Zanarini

    1. Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA and Director, Laboratory for the Study of Adult Development, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA, USA
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  • Invited paper

Mary C. Zanarini, Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


Objective:  Psychotherapy is considered the primary treatment for borderline personality disorder (BPD). Currently, there are four comprehensive psychosocial treatments for BPD. Two of these treatments are considered psychodynamic in nature: mentalization-based treatment and transference-focused psychotherapy. The other two are considered to be cognitive-behavioral in nature: dialectical behavioral therapy and schema-focused therapy.

Method:  A review of the relevant literature was conducted.

Results:  Each of these lengthy and complex psychotherapies significantly reduces the severity of borderline psychopathology or at least some aspects of it, particularly physically self-destructive acts.

Conclusion:  Comprehensive, long-term psychotherapy can be a useful form of treatment for those with BPD. However, less intensive and less costly forms of treatment need to be developed.