Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Borderline personality disorder-Treatment, Discrimination against the mentally ill, Psychotherapists-Attitudes, Stigma (Social psychology), Social work education, BPD, Bias, Stigma, Clinician bias


A growing body of literature confirms that bias exists and thrives in mental health settings among clinicians charged with the care of individuals who meet criteria for BPD as outlined in DSM V – TR and DSM V. This study explores the origins of such bias against individuals diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Second, this study examines the various sources of learning that shape student clinicians' attitudes about people with a BPD diagnosis. Study participants, all students in Master's-level clinical social work programs, responded to an anonymous online survey wherein they were asked to reflect on their learning experiences and rate their sources of learning on scales measuring strength of influence and attitude toward people with BPD. They were also asked open-ended questions about their experiences learning about and working with individuals diagnosed with BPD. The study found that student clinicians credit their clinical work with individuals diagnosed with BPD as the most influential source of learning. They also credit colleagues as the most negative influence in their learning process about individuals diagnosed with BPD. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications for social work education, further questions, and suggestions for future research.




iii, 47 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (pages 32-37)