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Mental Health: Understanding Personality Disorders Seminar

  • : Surry Hills NSW 2010



The challenges associated with personality disorders, and their profound impact on day-to-day practice in healthcare settings, are the basis for this program. You will learn about the definitions and types of personality disorders, and related management strategies.

This program is rich with practical skills and will contextualise some of the most difficult mental illnesses to manage. Don't miss this excellent opportunity to avail yourself with a range of new therapeutic strategies for your nursing 'tool box.'

If you have identified a professional need to improve your understanding of complex mental health conditions such as personality disorders as part of your planned learning activities, then this program will offer you an opportunity to gain continuing professional development (CPD) hours related to this topic.


Need for Program

Personality disorders manifest not only in our workplaces, but also in our personal lives, and can be very disturbing and difficult to manage. Have you ever met someone who was superficially charismatic and charming, only to realise you had been manipulated? Such behaviours can cause disruption in the workplace for staff caring for, or working with, people who have these conditions. There is a need for nurses to identify and clearly understand these complex mental illnesses and to update their knowledge on the best way to manage a person with these conditions.

Purpose of Program

The aim of this program is to provide nurses with up-to-date education about mental illness that relates to more complex and challenging conditions, such as personality disorders, including: early identification and assessment, signs and symptoms, diagnosis and ongoing management.

Your Learning Outcomes

  • Examine the characteristics of personality disorder including the signs and symptoms of the condition
  • Outline the best way to manage highly manipulative behavior in a person who is also superficially charismatic
  • Analyse a range of treatments that can be used to care for a person who has a borderline personality and debate their relative merits
  • Critique communication strategies and their effectiveness in the management of manipulative behaviours, aggression and antisocial behaviours
  • Schedule Day One

    8:30am - Registration and Refreshments



    In this introductory session, we will address your specific learning needs through:

    • Introduction to the main themes of this seminar
    • Alignment of the seminar objectives with your own learning goals
    • Discussion of your coping skills in challenging situations
    • A team building or group exercise may be included.


    Understanding Personality Disorders

    Personality disorders are some of the most controversial psychiatric diagnoses. They are usually associated with deeply ingrained, extreme, inflexible and maladaptive patterns of relating to and perceiving both the environment and themselves. This introductory session will review the condition.

    • How are the terms ‘personality’ and ‘personality disorder’ defined?
    • Foundational facts for developing an understanding of the differences between those who have a diagnosable personality disorder and those who do not


    Classifications of Personality Disorders

    Personality disorders are sometimes complex and challenging to identify. The DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) will be used as the framework for this session.

    • What are the ten personality disorders described in the DSM-V?
    • Application of the diagnostic criteria: how do you know it’s a personality disorder?

    10:30am - Morning Tea and Coffee

    Demonstration of online CPD resources available to Ausmed Education members


    Personality Disorders – The Challenges

    Differences in opinions, staff culture and lack of understanding all contribute to feelings of frustration among healthcare professionals. In this session discussion, case studies and role-plays in relation to these disorders will increase your understanding of management in the clinical context, this includes:

    • Co-workers with personality disorders
    • Manipulative behaviour and staff-splitting: strategies and practical communication approaches to overcome the frustration
    • Countertransference
    • What works and does not work – role plays
    • Dissociative identity disorder

    12:30pm - Lunch Break and Networking



    Paranoia is associated with a wide range of mental illnesses, though often presents as a key symptom in people with a personality disorder. What is it and how do you work with it?

    • Where does paranoia come from and how do you classify it?
    • What would make you think that someone is exhibiting patterns of paranoid thinking?
    • How does this condition interrelate with schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder or avoidant personality disorder?
    • Guidelines for coping with and helping people who are paranoid



    What it is and what it is not. How to assess self-harming behaviour and alternatives to offer clients.

    • Interactive case discussion or video on self-harm
    • Reasons for self-harm (internal processes, communication behaviour, suicide)
    • Interrupting self-harm – a simple pathway to follow
    • Alternatives to self-harm


    How to Manage Other Persistent Unstable Behaviours

    People who persistently manifest with unpredictable and unstable behaviours pose particular challenges for those working in health care. This interesting session examines some scenarios that will assist you to understand their management.

    • An exploration of the problems encountered in those with a complex mental health disorder
    • The therapeutic relationship – what are the major elements which facilitate and sustain it?
    • Unmotivated for treatment and impervious to recovery – is this true?

    3:00pm - Afternoon Tea and Coffee


    The Use of Treatment Agreements


    • Understanding the role and purpose of behavioural agreements between clients and mental health workers
    • How you can adapt your own management plan to your setting
    • Getting the content right
    • Case studies involving treatment agreements

    4:15pm - Close of Day One of Seminar

    Day Two

    9:00am - Commencement of Day Two


    Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

    BPD is undoubtedly one of the most common mental health conditions that healthcare professionals encounter across all healthcare settings. Why is this? What are the signs and symptoms unique to BPD. What do research findings reveal about the most effective treatment approaches?

    • Treatment approaches for non-mental health clinicians
    • Discussion of evidence-based methods of treatment designed to help this difficult group of clients in a way which is optimistic and which preserves the morale of the therapist
    • The role of community case managers and consultation liaison services

    10:30am - Morning Tea and Coffee


    Introduction to Dialectical Behaviour Therapy

    Dialectical behaviour therapy is the current evidence-based choice of therapy for many people who experience symptoms of mental health disorders, including poor impulse control, chaotic or overwhelming emotions, depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicidal behaviours.

    • What is dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT)?
    • According to research, what complex or challenging mental health conditions can be helped with DBT?
    • Why is it effective for self-harm and suicidal behaviours?
    • The four stages of DBT – pre-commitment, the modules of skills training, ongoing therapy and moving on to life.

    12:30pm - Lunch Break and Browse the Book Display


    Dialectical Behaviour Therapy

    This practical and highly interactive session will focus on learning the skills training modules of DBT which focus on personal growth, and will include relevant case study discussions.

    • Core mindfulness – mindfulness techniques for relaxation and focus (mindful eating exercise)
    • Interpersonal effectiveness – skills for maintaining relationships
    • Emotion regulation – balancing emotions and enhancing resilience
    • Distress tolerance – surviving and self-care
    • Case studies will include examples of how DBT can reduce hospital admissions, improve adjustment, help to maintain steady employment and relationships.

    3:00pm - Afternoon Tea and Coffee


    Case Scenarios – Bringing it all Together

    Presentation of complex case scenarios to illustrate the key concepts of this seminar:

    • The person admitted with a physical illness who has a diagnosed, or undiagnosed, mental health disorder and the related approaches to assessment and treatment
    • Self-harm and suicidal scenarios

    4:15pm - Close of Seminar and Evaluations


    Mike Smith

    Mike Smith

    Mike Smith has been a mental health nurse for 20 years and has master's degree in public health and mental health nursing. He has extensive experience in all areas of mental health nursing, including forensic, acute, community, consultation-liaison psychiatry, psychiatry liaison, GP liaison, and homeless mental health. He is currently a clinical nurse consultant in HIV Mental Health, located in metro Sydney and providing care for people presenting with complex physical and mental health issues, including concurrent mental health problems, personality disorders, alcohol/substance abuse, infectious diseases, and other associated health problems. Mike has been a guest lecturer at the University of Technology School of Nursing for both the undergraduate and postgraduate programs. He coordinates the University of NSW medical students on placement, providing a program of experience and community-based learning, and provides education for University of Notre Dame medical students. He is also a co-coordinator for the Mental Health special interest group for the Public Health Association of Australia and is involved in mental health policy and advocacy at a national level.

Mental Health: Understanding Personality Disorders Seminar
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10 Hours | 30 Mins
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End Date
10 Hours | 30 Mins
Surry Hills NSW 2010
Rydges Sydney Central, 28 Albion Street
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