Schema Therapy for forensic patients with personality disorders: Design and preliminary findings of a multicenter randomized clinical trial in the Netherlands

D.P. Bernstein*, H. Nijman, Kai Karos, M. Keulen-de Vos, V. de Vogel, T.P.C. Lucker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

55 Citations (Web of Science)


According to Dutch Law, patients committing severe crimes justifying imprisonment of four years or more who cannot be held (fully) accountable for these acts can be sentenced to compulsory hospitalization in a specialized TBS hospital in the Netherlands. In the current paper, the effects of TBS treatment will be addressed in terms of recidivism numbers after termination of TBS treatment, as well as in behavioral changes that are observed during admission to TBS hospitals. Although these results offer some indirect support suggesting that TBS is effective, no randomized controlled trials had been conducted up until now that could confirm this. In the current study, preliminary results are reported from a multicenter randomized clinical trial on the effectiveness of Schema Therapy (ST) for hospitalized TBS patients with Antisocial, Borderline, Narcissistic, or Paranoid Personality Disorders, including those with high levels of psychopathy. Patients at seven TBS clinics were randomly assigned to receive three years of either ST or Treatment As Usual (TAU), and are being assessed on several outcome variables, such as recidivism risk (HCR-20, START), personality disorder symptoms (SIDP-IV, SNAP), and successful re-integration into the community. A three-year follow-up study will examine actual recidivism. One hundred and two patients are participating in the study. The preliminary findings from the first 30 patients to complete the three-year study suggest that ST is yielding better outcomes than TAU with regard to reducing recidivism risk and promoting re-entry into the community. These findings are not yet statistically significant, and thus need to be interpreted with caution until confirmed in our complete sample and follow up. However, they suggest that ST may be a promising treatment for offenders with personality disorders, including some psychopathic ones.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-324
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Forensic Mental Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


  • RISK

Cite this