A Goal-Oriented Limited-Duration Approach for Borderline Personality Disorder During Brief Inpatient Hospitalizations

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As part of their overall care, patients with borderline personality disorder may require inpatient hospitalization for containment and stabilization in the context of severe distress, increased risk for self-harm, or after self-harming acts. Though data suggests that such patients are frequently hospitalized, the benefits of brief hospitalizations can sometimes be questionable. In some cases, the hospitalization environment may increase patient distress. Additionally, frequent serial hospitalizations can disrupt or sidetrack longer-term outpatient treatments. The present paper presents a Goal-Oriented Limited-Duration Borderline Personality Disorder Inpatient Treatment approach. The approach integrates elements from many other expert-based approaches for working in brief hospital settings and centers on the creation of a preadmission treatment agreement with a planned discharge date. This agreement involves clear goals for treatment and specifies how staff will be involved. Establishing a discharge date early in treatment allows staff to immediately begin working with feelings of rejection or abandonment. At discharge, recommendations are made and criteria for future admissions are set forth. This paper provides a description of the approach, information to consider in determining appropriateness, discussion of methods for clarifying goals, review of the discharge planning approach, and several examples of clinician–patient exchanges. This paper concludes with a case example in which the approach was used and discussions of future directions and potential benefits and limitations of the approach.

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