Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy

, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 27–38 | Cite as

Specialized Treatment for Patients with Severe Avoidant Personality Disorder: Experiences from Scandinavia

  • Sebastian SimonsenEmail author
  • Ingeborg Ullveit-Moe Eikenæs
  • Nana Lund Nørgaard
  • Eivind Normann-Eide
  • Sophie Juul
  • Theresa Wilberg
Original Paper


Avoidant personality disorder (AvPD) is a common and heterogeneous disorder. In spite of this, few studies have focused on treatment, and treatment guidelines have not been developed. In Scandinavian countries many patients with low levels of AvPD are treated sufficiently in private practices or in briefer psychiatric treatments, often for anxiety or depression. However, patients with higher levels of personality dysfunction are often not helped sufficiently by such treatments. In this paper we describe a longer and more intense treatment for severe AvPD based on a combination of Mentalization-Based Group Psychotherapy and Metacognitive Interpersonal Individual Therapy. This treatment has been piloted in Norway and Denmark, and we provide a case example of a successful treatment of a patient, “Julie” treated at Stolpegaard Psychotherapy Centre in Denmark. Based on our review of the literature and experiences from the pilot studies, we also provide some observations and general guidelines about important aspects of treatment of severe AvPD.


Avoidant personality disorder Mentalization Metacognition Specialized treatment Anxious personality Detached personality 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from the patient presented in this article.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stolpegaard Psychotherapy CentreCapital Region of DenmarkGentofteDenmark
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryVestfold Hospital TrustTønsbergNorway
  3. 3.Department of Personality PsychiatryOslo University Hospital, UllevålOsloNorway
  4. 4.Department of Research and Development, Clinic for Mental Health and Addiction, Oslo University HospitalUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  5. 5.Institute of Clinical MedicineUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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