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Early clarification processes in clients presenting with borderline personality disorder: Relations with symptom level and change
Person-Centered & Experiential Psychotherapies
Clarification-Oriented Psychotherapy (COP), an integrative treatment form with a basis in process-experiential psychotherapy, is particularly relevant for clients with Personality Disorders (PDs). We argue here that two related core therapeutic COP principles, "dual action regulation" and "interactional games" have consequences for symptom severity and therapeutic outcome for clients with PDs. A high quality COP clarification process requires that client's interactional games may be quickly assessed and treated in all (preferably early) therapy sessions. These processes can be observed and measured using the observer-rated Bochum Process and Relationship Rating Scales (BPRRS) which measure both clients' and therapists' contributions to the quality of the clarification processes engaged in therapy. This measure has been successfully applied to COP-therapies, but not, as yet, to therapies other than experiential, nor to specific client populations such as borderline personality disorder. The present study is a first attempt to evaluate the application of COP processes to other therapies and populations. We measured action regulation and interactional games using the BPRRS during intake sessions of a 10-session psychodynamic treatment of borderline personality disorder for a total of N = 30 clients and N = 8 therapists. Significant relationships were found between the client's degree of interactional games and both pretherapy symptom level and symptom change across therapy. These results are discussed in the context of Clarification-Oriented Psychotherapy, and more generally Person-Centered and Process-Experiential Psychotherapies. The potential relevance of the findings for psychodynamic psychotherapists are explored as well as the potential usefulness of taking into account a detailed analysis of interactional games for the training of psychotherapists working with any model of therapy working with clients presenting with BPD.
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