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STEPPS Group Treatment For Borderline Personality Disorder Found Superior ‘To Treatment As Usual’

Group TherapyA study published in the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics evaluates the effectiveness of systems training for emotional control in “real world” patients with borderline personality disorder using STEPPS. Systems Training for Emotional Predictability and Problem Solving (STEPPS) is a group treatment for borderline personality disorder (BPD). The results were published in the Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.

Two prior randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have shown the efficacy of STEPPS training. In both RCTs, patients with borderline features who did not meet strict DSM-IV criteria for BPD were excluded.

The authors of this study investigated the effectiveness of STEPPS in a sample representative of routine clinical practice and examined whether DSM-IV diagnosis and/or baseline severity were related to differential effectiveness. Patients whom their practicing clinician diagnosed with BPD were randomized to STEPPS plus adjunctive individual therapy (STEPPS, n=84) or to treatment as usual (n=84). STEPPS recipients showed more improvement on measures of general and BPD-specific psychopathology as well as quality of life than treatment as usual recipients, both at the end of treatment and at a 6-month follow-up.

Presence of DSM-IV-diagnosed BPD was not related to differential treatment effectiveness, but dimensional measures of symptom severity were; STEPPS was superior to treatment as usual, particularly in patients with higher baseline severity scores. The findings show the effectiveness of STEPPS in a ‘real-world’ sample, and underscore the importance of dimensional versus categorical measures of personality disturbance.

Material adapted from Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.

Bos, E.H., van Wel, E.B., Appelo, M.T., & Verbraak, M.J.P.M. Effectiveness of Systems Training for Emotional Predictability and Problem Solving (STEPPS) for Borderline Personality Problems in a ‘Real-World’ Sample: Moderation by Diagnosis or Severity? Psychother Psychosom 2011;80:173-181.

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