Psychotherapy via Telehealth during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Australia–Experience of Clients with a Diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder

  •  Nitin P Dharwadkar    
  •  Jillian H Broadbear    
  •  Parvaneh Heidari    
  •  Lukas Cheney    
  •  Sathya Rao    


OBJECTIVE: To investigate the transition to, and experience of, telehealth in people with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD).

METHOD: A cross-sectional study using an online survey was conducted in a specialist clinic for personality disorders in March-May 2020.

RESULTS: Thirty-seven clients (48% response rate) completed the survey. Two participants (5.4%) were decided not to receive treatment via telehealth. Transitioning from in-person to telehealth, the majority of participants had few or no technical issues (51.4%). Telephone, video-conferencing and a mix of telephone and video-conferencing were used. Positive and negative experiences were endorsed asking about the effectiveness of telehealth. While some participants were whether unsure (32%) or not (19%) interested in telehealth following pandemic, half acknowledged the presence of telehealth (54.8%) and wanted to have the option of telehealth following pandemic (48.6%).

CONCLUSIONS: Despite some shortcomings associated with telehealth, almost every client continued to attend appointments and half of the study participants wanted to have the option of telehealth in the future. Healthcare policymakers and mental health managers should consider the challenges described in this study while developing telehealth guidelines to best support people experiencing problems living with the psychiatric diagnoses of BPD.

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