School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling (EdD)


Stacey C. Lilley


borderline personality disorder, childhood trauma, clinicians, stigma, recovery processes, treatment, social cognitive theory, and transformative learning theory


Counseling | Education


A recurring theme in research on borderline personality disorder (BPD) and childhood trauma was the stigma associated with a BPD diagnosis often resulting in barriers to recovery processes and challenges to treatment for this population. The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study focused on the lived experience of licensed clinicians who work with BPD clients, with the aim to find common themes experienced by clinicians regarding clinicians’ BPD clients, what successes and challenges experienced by clinicians led to their attitudes and perspectives toward treating BPD clients, and what perspectives clinicians have regarding what resources (education, training, etc.) are available in helping clinicians work with BPD clients. Understanding clinicians’ perspectives may lead to removal of the stigma associated with a BPD diagnosis and thereby remove challenges to treatment. This study, grounded by developmental and learning theoretical framework, was guided by both social cognitive theory and transformative learning theory. Research questions focused on how clinicians described their experience in working with BPD clients, how they described challenges and successes, and how they described resources available to them to treat BPD clients. One-on-one interviews and observations were conducted. Phenomenological data analysis was conducted using the simplified version of Moustaka’s Modified Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen Method, and data were analyzed for significant phrases before developing meanings, and clustering them into themes, and presenting an exhaustive description of the phenomenon were the general guidelines.