Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in the Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder: Rationale, Preliminary Evidence, and Future Directions

  • Theresa A. MorganEmail author
  • Rawya Aljabari
Personality Disorders (M Zimmerman, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Personality Disorders



Recent iterations of behavior therapy emphasize transdiagnostic processes highlighting commonalities of human experience, mindfulness, language, and acceptance. In contrast to traditional treatment models—which emphasize symptom reduction—these therapies instead prioritize improving quality of life and life engagement. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is one such approach with over 300 randomized controlled trials, 40 meta-analyses, and countless uncontrolled studies published on its use. ACT not only shares features of many existing evidence-based treatments for borderline personality disorder (BPD) but also proposes some unique skills that may be of benefit to patients with BPD.

Purpose of review

The purpose of the current review is to outline commonalities and distinct features of ACT that may not be familiar to providers currently treating BPD, to present a rationale for using ACT with these patients, and to provide a summary of preliminary evidence supporting this use.

Recent findings

Existing research incorporating ACT and ACT processes in the treatment of BPD is reviewed, results from which suggest that ACT provides a promising approach for use with these patients. Nonetheless, several deficits in the research body exist.


ACT provides an alternative to existing treatments for BPD with a burgeoning evidence base. However, additional research is needed documenting its use in this patient group.


Acceptance and commitment therapy Borderline personality disorder Psychotherapy Personality disorders Behavior therapy 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Theresa A. Morgan declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Rawya Aljabari declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights and informed consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

References and Recommended Reading

Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Human BehaviorBrown Medical SchoolProvidenceUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryRhode Island HospitalProvidenceUSA

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