BACKGROUND AND AIMS:Support of personal recovery represents the aim for many modern mental health services. There is a lack of conceptual clarity around the application of the term however and this is particularly problematic with regard to the personality disorder diagnoses. This study sought to review the existing qualitative methods literature in relation to the experience of personal recovery in personality disorder.
METHODS:A systematic literature search was conducted. Identified studies were incorporated through meta-synthesis in order to develop higher order descriptive themes representative of the individual experience described within included studies.
RESULTS:Three studies were identified and incorporated into the meta-synthesis. Three novel higher order themes were developed: Safety and containment as a prerequisite to recovery, social networks and autonomy in the recovery process and identity construction as a process of change.
CONCLUSION:Personal recovery in personality disorder is revealed as a complex process reflecting both personal and social experiences or desires. These findings have important implications for clinical practice - emphasising the need to work closely with individuals and to develop an understanding of both their social experience and networks. Further research, taking greater account of social context in the recovery process, is necessary.