Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Borderline personality disorder, Borderline personality disorder-Treatment, Stigma (Social psychology), Psychotherapists-Attitudes, BPD, Stigma, Clinician interviews


This study was undertaken to explore the attitudes and feelings that mental health clinicians have towards Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), which, as the literature shows, is a highly stigmatized diagnosis within the field. Special attention was paid to the participants' treatment experiences with this client population, including initial reactions, issues of countertransference, treatment approaches, prognosis, and clinician disclosure. The study was designed to explore the reasons or meanings behind the negative stereotypes that often accompany discussions around BPD. Previous research has not utilized a qualitative approach with therapists. Instead, the existing literature has focused on evidence-based treatments for BPD and measuring the existence of the stigma. Furthermore, the majority of current studies around "BPD stigma" have been quantitative and executed primarily with the nursing population, leaving out in-depth narratives from clinicians. Eleven therapists were interviewed on their perspectives of working with clients with BPD. Questions were open-ended to give respondents room to speak freely. Findings revealed all participants expressing the unique complexities associated with clients who have BPD and the challenges in treating them. Data analysis showed that negative feelings and attitudes often come from the clinician's reactions to the client and/or what develops from the therapeutic process with these individuals. Additional findings showed that while respondents determine BPD to be especially difficult to treat, they are able to locate a place of empathy and compassion for those with the diagnosis.




iii, 64 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2012. Includes bibliographical references (p. 54-56)