In addition, the women who received the treatment called dialectical behaviour therapy also were less likely to go to an emergency room for suicidal behaviour or to be hospitalised for psychiatric reasons, said Marsha Linehan, lead author of a new study. None of the women in the study who attempted suicide were successful during the one-year study and a one-year follow-up.

The new research was designed to determine whether treatment was successful because of the skill of therapists or because of the treatment itself. Half the participating women were assigned to therapists who were trained in dialectical behaviour therapy. The others were assigned to one of a group of expert therapists nominated by community mental health leaders, including heads of inpatient psychiatric units and clinical mental health agencies. These community therapists were selected on the basis of their skill in working with difficult patients and used a variety of treatment approaches.

"The importance of the study is that is shows a very specific treatment, dialectical behaviour therapy, was very effective in treating people with borderline personality disorder, and this therapy is uniquely effective in treating suicidal behaviour. We cut the number of suicide attempts in half," she said.

The women in the dialectical behaviour therapy group received weekly individual psychotherapy and weekly group skills training, as well as telephone access to their therapist for a year. The study did not mandate the type of treatment provided by the expert therapists to the other group of women. Instead, the therapists were told to provide the type and amount of therapy they believed was best suited to each patient, with a minimum of one individual session a week for one year. Additional treatment could be prescribed as needed.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Washington