Evaluation of a skills-based peer-led art therapy online-group for people with emotion dysregulation

Publication Name

Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotion Dysregulation


Objective: We developed and piloted a novel art-based online skills program led by a peer mental health professional with lived experience of complex mental health, including Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Key challenges of living with BPD and emotion dysregulation were addressed through artmaking informed by a dialectical framework and skills, to evaluate acceptability and efficacy. Method: A structured, manualised 2-hour weekly arts-based skills program was piloted for people with BPD over 18 weeks. Evaluation included both quantitative and qualitative measures at commencement and completion. Results: Thirty-eight participants enrolled in the program (89.5% identified she/her pronouns, average age 33.6 years), and 31 completed (82% retention). Multilevel modelling analysis of the primary outcome variable Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS) demonstrated a large improvement over time (effect size Cohen’s d = 1.77). Qualitative thematic analysis found participants had improved capacity to regulate emotions and tolerate distress, improved connection with others, enhanced understanding of the self, and higher hope for living well. We found that artmaking facilitated processes and helped the expression of difficult emotions, symbolise challenging relationships, and facilitate greater self-understanding. Participants reported high levels of satisfaction, and 77.4% reported that the program had increased wellbeing. Conclusion: This novel artmaking program for emotion dysregulation and BPD was acceptable and potentially effective. Peer facilitation using arts-based skills is a modality of therapy for further investigation.

Open Access Status

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Article Number


Funding Sponsor

NSW Ministry of Health



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