Date of Conferral



Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)




Steven G. Little


Early childhood maltreatment (CM) is a risk factor for later psychopathology specifically Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). CM has been found to negatively affect social, emotional, and psychological development as well as the ability to foster and sustain interpersonal relationships throughout all stages of life. There are evidence-based interventions for different kinds of CM including Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (TF-CBT), Alternatives for Families - Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (AF-CBT), relaxation training, and social skills training. The current study is a meta-analysis of published research into CM as it contributes to BPD in adults and is designed to examine the effect size of childhood maltreatment as it contributes to adults diagnosed with BPD. Glaser’s theory of emotional abuse and neglect and Linehan’s theory of etiology of impulsivity form the theoretical framework for understanding the definition and recognition of emotional abuse and neglect, and the etiology of impulsivity in the developmental path leading to BPD, respectively. A widespread literature search strategy and coding plan for studies was developed, and utilizing Comprehensive Meta-Analysis, version 3 software assisted in managing the data from the studies, calculating effect sizes, and heterogeneity of studies in the sample. The overall correlation between CM and BPD is positive and medium range with an effect size of 0.34, meaning that all studies with presence or absence of CM and BPD reported a significant association. Outcomes from this study may play a role in positive social change by identifying how each form of CM contributes to BPD may improve the effectiveness of mental health treatment for children by focusing on which form of childhood abuse should be treated first and foremost. Future research needs were identified based upon the results of the meta-analysis.