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The union of the expressive arts and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy with adolescents presenting with traits of Borderline Personality Disorder in a residential setting

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This article documents the journey of expressive arts-based Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) groups with adolescent females struggling with Borderline Personality Disorder at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA from their inception in 2009 through to the present. There has been minimal research done on the efficacy of fusing the expressive arts with DBT; the theoretical model used at the 3East residential treatment programme. This article documents the rationale, structure and evolution of these groups. Furthermore, we discuss indicators of potential benefits from these groups such as decreasing perfectionism, increasing mastery, coping skills, self esteem and self identity, as well as propose changes that could continue to improve the current groups. Specific interventions and client observations are showcased with the purpose of sharing our experiences and expanding the dialogue between clinical psychology and expressive arts. Our work supports a positive outcome for the combination of these two treatments in this setting.
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Keywords: Borderline Personality Disorder; Dialectical Behaviour Therapy; adolescents; creative arts; expressive arts therapy; residential treatment

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: McLean Hospital

Publication date: 2012-01-11

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  • The Journal of Applied Arts and Health serves a wide community of artists, researchers, practitioners and policy-makers evidencing the effectiveness of the interdisciplinary use of arts in health and arts for health. It provides a forum for the publication and debate within an interdisciplinary field of arts in healthcare and health promotion. The journal defines 'health' broadly which includes physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, occupational, social and community health.
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