Difficulties in emotion regulation are one of the core features of borderline personality disorder (BPD). Individuals with BPD also report higher levels of experiential avoidance (EA) compared to controls. These constructs have never been studied concomitantly in adolescents. First, given the conceptual similarity of difficulties in emotion regulation and EA, the authors sought to determine whether EA provides incremental validity, above emotion dysregulation, in its association with borderline features. Second, EA was explored as a mediator in the relation between difficulties in emotion regulation and borderline features. The sample included 208 adolescents recruited from an inpatient psychiatric unit (M(age) = 15.96, SD = 1.39; females = 60.1%). Borderline personality features were assessed using the self-report Borderline Personality Features Scale for Children (Crick, Murray-Close, & Woods, 2005). EA was assessed using the Avoidance and Fusion Questionnaire for Youth (Greco, Lambert, & Baer, 2008), and difficulties in emotion regulation were assessed using the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (Gratz & Roemer, 2004). Greater borderline personality features were associated with significantly higher levels of EA and difficulties in emotion regulation. Hierarchical regression analyses showed that EA made a small, but significant, incremental and independent contribution to borderline features when added to a model already including difficulties in emotion regulation. In addition, EA partially mediated the relation between difficulties in emotion regulation and borderline features. EA and emotion regulation are both important targets of treatments aimed at decreasing borderline personality features in adolescents.
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