Emotional regulation for adolescents: a group-based treatment pilot study through the STEPPS programme

Ivan Llorens Ruiz, Fernando Lopez Seco, Adela Masana Marín, Esmeralda San Martín Águila, Dina Martínez Pinar, Sonsoles Martín Alonso, Elisabet Vilella, Alfonso Gutierrez-Zotes
Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy 2020 July 30, : 1-5

BACKGROUND: Borderline personality disorder (BPD) usually begins in adolescence and manifests itself in adult life. Early intervention can improve the prognosis or reduce its severity. Nevertheless, there are currently few studies of adolescent patients with severe emotion instability and borderline personality traits.

AIMS: To evaluate the effectiveness of the Systems Training for Emotional Predictability and Problem Solving (STEPPS) programme in a sample of 21 adolescents (aged 13-17 years) in the Child and Adolescents Mental Health Center of Tarragona in Spain.

METHOD: We evaluated BPD traits using the Diagnostic Interview for Borderline Disorder-Revised (DIB-R) and the Global Clinical Impression Scale of Illness Severity for TLP (CGI-TLP). We compared pre- and post-treatment scores for the DIB-R, CGI-GI scale, general psychopathology using the Personality Inventory for Adolescents (PAI-A) and impulsivity with the Barratt Impulsivity Scale (BIS-11). The therapeutic objectives were evaluated with the Borderline Estimate Severity over Time (BEST) scale.

RESULTS: There was a statistically significant improvement in the scores for the affective area and in the total score of the DIB-R, a decrease in the percentage of patients who failed to meet criteria for BPD, and an improvement (although not statistically significant) in the scores of the BEST scale throughout the treatment. The results of the CGI-GI scale showed global improvement in almost 72% of patients.

CONCLUSION: Our study suggests that STEPPS can be an effective treatment to improve BPD symptoms and is very useful in community settings with limited resources in which efficient treatment alternatives must be sought. However, this conclusion must be interpreted with caution, as there is no comparison control group.

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