Mclean Hospital

Safe Passage: Gunderson Residence Provides Transitional Support for Women with Borderline Personality Disorder

May 12, 2010

With the opening of the Gunderson Residence, women with borderline personality disorder (BPD) now have a structured, home-like environment to support them in their recovery. With nine private beds, the residence is designed for women ages 21 and older who need additional structure in making the transition from inpatient to outpatient care.

BPD, a complex illness characterized by dependency, impulsivity, self-destructive behaviors, and lack of self-esteem, can be particularly challenging to treat. The residence offers an innovative care model, integrating the evidence-based practices of mentalization-based treatment and other skills-based approaches, such as cognitive behavior therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and patient education, within individual, group, and family settings.

John G. Gunderson, MD
John G. Gunderson, MD

“During their stay at the residence, patients benefit from the stabilization of highly structured, individualized care while immersing themselves in treatment,” says Gunderson Residence Medical and Program Director Lois W. Choi-Kain, MD, MEd. “Because patients typically stay in the program for an average of three to four months, they learn to apply newfound skills before returning to their families and jobs.”

The Gunderson Residence was made possible by an anonymous donor, who gave a generous $500,000 gift to purchase the property; the residence is named in honor of John G. Gunderson, MD, often referred to as the father of the borderline diagnosis and a longtime McLean clinician. “We are very grateful to this philanthropist, who clearly recognized the intricacies and difficulties in treating this illness,” he says. “This program, unlike any other, gives patients one foot in treatment and one in the community—a new meaning for the term ‘borderline’—where they can learn to develop healthy, fulfilling lives.”