Interventions for perinatal borderline personality disorder and complex trauma: a systematic review

Alexandra May, Ryan Balzan, Anne Sved Williams, Tracey D. Wade, Sarah Marie Paranjothy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
33 Downloads (Pure)


Perinatal borderline personality disorder (BPD) and complex post-traumatic stress disorder (cPTSD) are associated with significant impairment to interpersonal functioning, and risk of intergenerational transmission of psychopathology. Evaluation of interventions, however, is scarce. To date, no systematic review has addressed interventions for perinatal BPD, cPTSD, and associated symptomatology. Given the modest evidence to support informed clinical guidelines, the objective of this systematic review is to synthesise the literature on interventions for perinatal BPD and cPTSD, and to generate future directions for research. A comprehensive literature search following PRISMA guidelines was conducted in PsycInfo, MEDLINE, Emcare, Scopus, and ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global databases. Seven original studies were included, of which only two were randomised controlled trials, using less intensive comparison conditions. Results suggest an association between Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) group skills training, a multimodal therapeutic approach at a Mother-Baby Unit (MBU), and Child-Parent Psychotherapy with improved perinatal mental health outcomes and remission of symptoms. MBU admission and home-visiting programs were associated with healthy postpartum attachment relationships. Home-visiting programs and DBT group skills were additionally associated with improved maternal parenting capabilities. Conclusions to inform clinical guidelines are limited by a lack of credible comparison conditions, and low quantity and quality of evidence. The feasibility of implementing intensive interventions in real-world settings is dubious. Hence, it is suggested that future research considers utilising antenatal screening to identify at-risk mothers, and the implementation of early intervention, using robust designs that can inform robust conclusions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-309
Number of pages15
JournalArchives of Women's Mental Health
Issue number3
Early online date20 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Complex post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Complex trauma
  • Intervention
  • Perinatal


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