Developing the Therapeutic Use of Self in the Health Care Professional Through Autoethnography: Working With the Borderline Personality Disorder Population


  • Kimberly Ann Jones St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, Ontario, Canada


Frequently stigmatized, misdiagnosed, improperly treated, and discounted is the suffering of the patient with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), and it can be a serious, agonizing, tenacious, and draining mental illness. Present-day research illustrates that patients with BPD are in fact the largest consumers of mental health services, utilizing every treatment genre more frequently and in greater quantities than any other mental health taxonomy. They experience more complex and destructive symptoms, more perpetual misery and encumbrance, an unpredictable usage of outpatient services, and extensive treatment modalities and psychiatric admissions. A review of current literature reveals this consistent notion: the attitudes of health care professionals toward patients diagnosed with this elaborate disorder tend to be disparaging. The aim of this article is to critically analyze the prospect that autoethnography (or narrative research) is a strategic, useful tool for mental health professionals to improve empathy and identification with patients suffering with BPD. As a qualitative research method, autoethnography is advantageous for creating connections between care provider and patient. It can deepen their mutual and divergent experiences while generating empirical knowledge from the professional’s narrative reflection and through the therapeutic use of self with the patient.

Author Biography

Kimberly Ann Jones, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Masters of Nursing to be completed in June 2012. Presently work in psychiatry in an emergency department.