Growing Better Lives

Choice and Engagement Research

This work was carried out to examine  a novel process for engaging services users  diagnosed with personality disorder with therapeutic services.

The problem: within mental health treatment non-completion is directly associated with poor clinical outcomes.  For people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) poor engagement in psychological and psychosocial treatment is a significant issue since they find it particularly difficult to remain in treatment. Choice is also important and can improve service users engagement with therapy. Therefore patients’ choice and mechanisms of engagement are key theoretical ideas supporting the ‘Open Day’ concept.

We investigated the process at the Athena therapy centre in Slough which used an ‘Open Day’ as the entry route for service users  (with BPD) into treatment services.  The  ‘Open Day’ was designed by clinicians to provide information, complete some assessments, encourage discussions and enable those attending to make choices as to which services, groups and therapies they feel are suitable.  At the end of the day those attending were able to make their decision about starting with the service.

A discussion group was held with eight service users recruited  all of whom had experienced the Open Day process within the last six months and the two facilitators also  observed different Open Days. The discussion was then analyzed and the extracted themes were reviewed: from these a simple questionnaire was devised to be used at the end of future open days for service users to complete, rating aspects of the Open Day and reporting on their emotional states at the start  and end of the day. From the discussion with service users  a  list of recommended improvements was compiled and reported to the relevant clinicians:  some of these changes have now been implemented.


Open Day

The main themes were:

  • Receiving the Open Day invitation
  • Arriving at Athena for the Open Day
  • Learning about Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Meeting similar people
  • Open and non-judgement environment


For more detail about the study and its findings click here to download the research   handout  Open Day research poster

Or to view the research poster click here Open Day research poster

Authors: Vanessa Jones, Sangita Maurya  and Rex Haigh (2014)