Therapeutic relationship is key to recovery from personality disorder

May 19, 2014 by Emma Rayner, University of Nottingham
Therapeutic relationship is key to recovery from personality disorder

(Medical Xpress)—Patients in Rampton Hospital, a secure psychiatric unit in Nottinghamshire, have reported that the single most important factor affecting their recovery was the support and commitment of their therapist.

A new study by researchers Phil Willmot and Professor Mary McMurran at the Institute of Mental Health, a joint venture between The University of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Healthcare, explored the changes during treatment of male inpatients diagnosed with severe .

The research is published in the journal Legal and Criminal Psychology and will be a valuable contribution to wider ongoing enhancements to the treatment of long-term detained psychiatric patients with a personality disorder. The study is unique in that it was carried out in the form of detailed interviews and questionnaires filled in by the patients themselves. It shows how the behaviour of therapists is vitally important throughout treatment and by the final stage of therapy patients begin to value interactions with other staff as also important.

Forging attachments

Fifty patients, all with a diagnosis of personality disorder and convicted of serious violent or sexual offences, were asked about what they thought were the most important factors that had helped them to change in hospital.

Patients in the early stages of treatment rated the influence of their therapist as the most important factor. For patients in the later stages of treatment, relationships with nursing staff and the content of therapy became more important, but the relationship with the therapist remained important throughout the treatment process.

Phil Willmot, PhD student and consultant psychologist in the Men's Personality Disorder Service at Rampton Hospital, said: "Many therapies for personality disorder are designed to provide what children need if they are to grow up emotionally healthy; things like feeling safe, understood and cared for. Many of our patients have suffered severe abuse or neglect in childhood and so missed out on these experiences. These results are important because our patients are confirming the vital nature of these experiences to the process of recovery from severe problems."

Crucial role of therapist

Dr John Wallace, Clinical Director at Rampton Hospital, added: "This important study adds to the evidence base concerning the crucial role of the therapist-patient relationship in the therapeutic process. While this is apparent to therapists working with patients with personality disorder, the evidence in this report is provided by with the severest forms of personality disorder and with extremely complex needs."

This research provides valuable evidence about the process by which people with personality disorder can be helped in their recovery. Future work in this area aims to further explore the process of change and improve the effectiveness of treatments for severe personality disorders.

The study 'An attachment-based model of therapeutic change processes in the of personality disorder among male forensic inpatients' by Phil Willmot and Mary McMurran is published on Monday 19 May 2014 in The British Psychological Society's journal Legal and Criminal Psychology.

Explore further: Borderline personality, bipolar disorders have similar unemployment rates

More information: Willmot, P. and McMurran, M. (2014), "An attachment-based model of therapeutic change processes in the treatment of personality disorder among male forensic inpatients." Legal and Criminological Psychology. DOI: 10.1111/lcrp.12055

Related Stories

Borderline personality, bipolar disorders have similar unemployment rates

December 11, 2012
Unemployment poses a significant burden on the public no matter what the cause. But for those who have been diagnosed with a psychiatric illness, chronic unemployment is often coupled with significant health care costs. A ...

New therapy for personality disorders proven more effective than other major treatments

February 10, 2014
A large scale randomized control trial, just released in the American Journal of Psychiatry (the official journal of the American Psychiatric Association) shows Schema Therapy to be significantly more effective than two major ...

Study supports alternative model for personality disorders in upcoming DSM-5

May 10, 2013
A new "alternative model" included in the upcoming Fifth Edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM -5) lines up well with the current approach to diagnosis ...

Study finds mending ruptures in client-therapist relationship has positive benefits

November 6, 2013
In order for prolonged exposure therapy, an evidence-based psychotherapy for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), to reach its full potential, any misperceptions or ruptures in trust and communication between therapist ...

Recommended for you

People with prosthetic arms less affected by common illusion

January 22, 2018
People with prosthetic arms or hands do not experience the "size-weight illusion" as strongly as other people, new research shows.

Study of learning and memory problems in OCD helps young people unlock potential at school

January 22, 2018
Adolescents with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have widespread learning and memory problems, according to research published today. The findings have already been used to assist adolescents with OCD obtain the help ...

Intensive behavior therapy no better than conventional support in treating teenagers with antisocial behavior

January 19, 2018
Research led by UCL has found that intensive and costly multisystemic therapy is no better than conventional therapy in treating teenagers with moderate to severe antisocial behaviour.

Babies' babbling betters brains, language

January 18, 2018
Babies are adept at getting what they need - including an education. New research shows that babies organize mothers' verbal responses, which promotes more effective language instruction, and infant babbling is the key.

College branding makes beer more salient to underage students

January 18, 2018
In recent years, major beer companies have tried to capitalize on the salience of students' university affiliations, unveiling marketing campaigns and products—such as "fan cans," store displays, and billboard ads—that ...

Inherited IQ can increase in early childhood

January 18, 2018
When it comes to intelligence, environment and education matter – more than we think.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.