Study Shows Personality Disorder Patients Need Positive Therapist Relationships

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The most important factor influencing the recovery of patients with personality disorder patients is the support and commitment of their therapist, according to a new study from researchers at The University of Nottingham in collaboration with Nottinghamshire.

Published in the journal Legal and Criminal Psychology, the study explored the changes during treatment of male inpatients diagnosed with severe personality disorders, and was conducted via detailed interviews and questionnaires filled in by the patients themselves.

The study evaluated fifty patients diagnosed with personality disorders and who were also convicted of serious, violent, or sexual offences by assessing the most important factors which helped them change during their time in hospital.

The early state patients consistently rated the influence of their therapist as the most important factor in their recovery, however those in the later stages of treatment stated relationships with nursing staff and the content of their therapy as more important.

Still, later-stage patients considered the relationship with the therapist as an important factor throughout their treatment.

Phil Willmot, consultant psychologist in the Men’s Personality Disorder Service at Rampton Hospital told a reporter, “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 mental health problems.”

Dr. John Wallace, Clinical Director at Ramptom 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 patients with the severest forms of personality disorder and with extremely complex needs.”

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