Coordinating Author Information: Jennifer Boland, MA | Sam Houston State University

Session Abstract:

Most diagnoses included in the DSM-5 are set in a categorical framework, in which they are judged present or absent on the basis of discrete symptom counts. This approach has several inherent problems for both personality disorders (PDs) and psychopathology at large.

One alternative to this categorical framework for PD diagnosis is the DSM-5 Alternative Model of Personality Disorders (AMPD), which utilizes a dimensional trait-based approach to diagnosis. Although research has consistently supported the utility of the AMPD in the assessment of PDs, it is unclear exactly how this model will be translated into clinical practice (Hopwood, 2018; Waugh et al., 2017). Experts predict that knowledge and familiarity with the AMPD will spread as training programs begin to instruct future psychologists in the use of the AMPD (Waugh et al., 2017), but the extent to which this practice has become commonplace since the DSM-5’s publication in 2013 is unclear.

In the current study, we surveyed 75 clinicians and 109 trainees in mental health fields (i.e., psychology, counseling, and social work) to assess their knowledge and familiarity with this model. Generally, professionals indicated some knowledge of this model, with the mean familiarity rating falling between being somewhat to moderately familiar with the model; however, over 26% of the total sample had no familiarity at all with the AMPD, only 14% have used the AMPD clinically, and only 12% have used the AMPD in research.

These findings indicate that the AMPD is not widely known or used by mental health professionals, despite strong support for the inclusion of a dimensional model of PD diagnosis for the DSM-5 and positive preference ratings for the AMPD over the current categorical model of PD diagnosis in past studies.


Jennifer Boland, MA | Sam Houston State University

Jaime Anderson, PhD | Sam Houston State University

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