French multicenter study investigates the role of psychotherapy in BPD

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A French multicenter study headed by Jean Cottraux (Lyon) has investigated the role of psychotherapy in borderline personality disorder.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness characterized by pervasive instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and behavior. This instability often disrupts family and work life, long-term planning, and the individual's sense of self-identity. Originally thought to be at the "borderline" of psychosis, people with BPD suffer from a disorder of emotion regulation.

To date, there have been no studies comparing cognitive therapy (CT) with Rogerian supportive therapy (RST) in borderline personality disorder. In this study, thirty-three patients were randomly allocated to CT and 32 to RST. The therapists were the same in both groups. Both treatments shared the same duration (1 year) and amount of therapy. Assessment by independent evaluators utilised the Clinical Global Impression (CGI) Scale, the Hamilton Depression Scale, Beck Depression Inventory, Beck Anxiety Inventory, Hopelessness Scale, Young Schema Questionnaire II, Eysenck Impulsivity Venturesomeness Empathy (IVE) Inventory, a self-harming behaviours checklist and scales measuring quality of life and the therapeutic relationship. The response criterion was a score of 3 or less on the CGI, associated with a Hopelessness Scale score of <8. No patient committed suicide during the trial. Fifty-one patients were evaluated at week 24, 38 at week 52 and 21 at week 104. Cognitive therapy retained the patients in therapy for a longer time.

The response criterion found no significant between-group differences at any measurement point in the completers. However, at week 24, CT was better than RST on the Hopelessness Scale, IVE scale and regarding the therapeutic relationship. At week 104, the CGI improvement (patient and evaluator) was significantly better in CT than in RST. High baseline depression and impulsivity predicted dropouts. CT retained the patients in therapy longer, showed earlier positive effects on hopelessness and impulsivity, and demonstrated better long-term outcomes on global measures of improvement.

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