Personality Disorders: Research and Treatments

Course Description

Personality disorders are highly prevalent among psychiatric patients as well as the general population. Some of them also are commonly depicted in fiction and discussed in the media, like borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder. Despite their prevalence and clinical importance, personality disorders are often poorly understood, misdiagnosed, and heavily stigmatized. This course will take a deep dive into the topic, looking at cutting-edge research and clinical treatments.

The first week of this course will focus on the phenomenology of personality disorders and will address topics and questions such as the following: What are personality disorders and how do these differ from personality traits? How prevalent are they and what causes them? What is the course and trajectory of personality disorders? Are they stable over one’s lifetime, or do personality disorders get better with treatment? We will also discuss some current controversies surrounding personality disorders. These include whether personality disorders can be diagnosed in children and adolescents, whether the name should be changed to be less stigmatizing, whether disorders should be represented dimensionally or categorically, and whether some disorders warrant treatment at all.

The second week of the course will focus on several current treatments that are used to treat patients with personality disorders. We will take a look at the theoretical basis behind these interventions, including Dialectic Behavior Therapy, Transference Focused Therapy, and Mentalization-Based Therapy. We will also look at empirical studies that have examined these interventions as treatments for personality disorders, specifically borderline personality disorder.

As a result of this course, you will:
• Be able to describe personality disorders including diagnostic approaches, symptoms, and outcomes.
• Be able to evaluate current controversies in the personality disorder field.
• Be able to describe the main evidence-based treatment approaches currently used for personality disorders.
• Have experience searching for, reviewing, and summarizing original research articles about topics related to personality disorders.
• Have experience designing studies to examine ongoing questions about personality disorders and their treatment.


There are no course prerequisites, and no prior knowledge of psychology is needed; however, you should feel comfortable participating in group discussions, projects, presentations, and writing 2-page essays. You will be instructed on how to search for primary sources using library tools and cite sources appropriately.


One Section Available to Choose From:

Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.

Dates: June 20, 2022 - July 01, 2022
Duration: 2 Weeks
Meeting Times: M-F 8:30A-11:20A
Status: Closed
Format: On-Campus
Instructor(s): Jessica Peters
Course Number: 10165