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NIMH Funds New Studies to Improve Psychotherapy

Dr. Barbara Stanley of Columbia and NYS Psychiatric Institute Will Focus on Borderline Personality Disorder
September 8, 2008

Psychotherapy is a crucial part of treatment for many mental disorders, but it can be difficult to identify the right approach for an individual. To that end, NIMH is funding eight new projects designed to evaluate, refine and improve psychotherapy-based treatments.

Projects range from developing and piloting novel approaches for treating specific mental disorders, to conducting large, multi-site clinical trials to test treatments and treatment combinations for both adults and children.

Barbara Stanley, Ph.D., of Columbia University, will build upon previously reported studies that found a combination of a moderate dose of the antidepressant fluoxetine (Prozac)—a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)—and a form of psychotherapy called dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) can reduce suicidal and self-harming behavior in borderline personality disorder. In this study, Stanley will compare a brief version of DBT with a standard medication regimen of antidepressants. She will use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans, behavioral observations and other methods to evaluate changes in emotion regulation and impulsivity, two key components of borderline personality disorder.

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