Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Psychology


Background: While challenges with parenting have been documented for individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD), the specific mechanisms underlying these challenges are less understood. Further, there is currently a dearth in specialised parenting interventions that have been developed and empirically investigated for this group. This thesis consists of three studies that explore the parenting challenges faced by individuals with BPD and based on these challenges and their proposed underlying mechanisms, proposes a novel parenting intervention.

Method: Three mixed methodology studies evaluated the relationship between parenting and BPD. First, an overview of systematic reviews assessed individuals with personality disorder pathology for experiences of maladaptive parenting, and the impact on psychopathological and relational outcomes (Study One). Next, parental stress and competence, personality and mental wellbeing, trauma history, attachment and reflective capacity was investigated in parents with BPD features (Study Two). Finally, a novel four session group parenting intervention developed for individuals with BPD was piloted in the community (Study Three).

Results: Maladaptive parenting was found to be a psychosocial risk factor for the development of BPD, and BPD was found to be associated with maladaptive parenting, and negative offspring and parenting-offspring outcomes (Study One). Parenting stress and competence in individuals with BPD features was found to be associated with personality traits, general psychological wellbeing, recalled trauma history, attachment style and reflective capacity variables (Study Two). Preliminary results of a pilot study suggest that the group parenting intervention was well received by parents with BPD, and has potential to help improve parenting stress, distress, competence, and satisfaction (Study Three).

Discussion: These studies examined the specific parenting challenges experienced by individuals with BPD and the feasibility of conducting a brief parenting intervention to address these challenges. The reported difficulties experienced by parents in these studies is reflective of the broader literature outlining parenting challenges associated with BPD and provides further evidence for putative mechanisms that underlie the parent-child relationship. However, when met with appropriate intervention these parenting challenges appear to be amenable to change, indicating that further research into developing and implementing specialised parenting interventions for BPD is warranted.

FoR codes (2008)

1701 PSYCHOLOGY, 170106 Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology, 170109 Personality, Abilities and Assessment



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.