Effects of dialectical behaviour therapy-mindfulness training on emotional reactivity in borderline personality disorder: preliminary results

Albert Feliu-Soler, Juan C Pascual, Xavier Borràs, Maria J Portella, Ana Martín-Blanco, Antonio Armario, Enric Alvarez, Víctor Pérez, Joaquim Soler
Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy 2014, 21 (4): 363-70

UNLABELLED: Emotional dysregulation has been proposed as a hallmark of borderline personality disorder (BPD). Mindfulness techniques taught in dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) appear to be effective in reducing affective symptoms and may enhance emotion regulation in BPD patients. In the present study, we assessed whether 10 weeks of DBT-mindfulness (DBT-M) training added to general psychiatric management (GPM) could improve emotion regulation in BPD patients. A total of 35 patients with BPD were included and sequentially assigned to GPM (n = 17) or GPM plus DBT-M (n = 18). Participants underwent a negative emotion induction procedure (presentation of standardized unpleasant images) both pre-intervention and post-intervention. Clinical evaluation was also performed before and after treatment. No differences were observed in emotional response at the post-treatment session. However, patients in the DBT-M group showed greater improvement in clinical symptoms. Formal mindfulness practice was positively correlated with clinical improvements and lower self-reported emotional reactivity. Our preliminary results suggest that mindfulness training reduces some psychiatric symptoms but may not have a clear effect on how patients respond to emotional stimuli in an experimental setting.

KEY PRACTITIONER MESSAGE: No clear effect of mindfulness training was observed on emotional response to a negative emotion induction procedure. Application of the DBT-M module jointly to GPM induced better clinical outcomes than GPM alone. Formal mindfulness practice showed a positive impact on emotion regulation and clinical improvement.

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