Our project began through discussions between Dr. Paulina Kernberg and Dr. Pamela Foelsch followng the publication of Dr. Paulina Kernberg’s book explicating personality disorders in children and adolescents (2000). Our goal was to use our understanding that identity formation is fundamental to the development of normal personality and functioning and develop a treatment that could be used to intervene and reduce the likelihood of developing a personality disorder by clearing blockages to normal development. On the contrary, it is necessary to have a treatment that may be used in order to intervene and reduce the likelihood of developing a personality disorder, undoing blockages that inhibit a normal development.

We applied what we’ve learned from treating adults with personality disorders using Dr Otto Kernberg’s model, Transference Focused Psychotherapy, as well as general Object Relations, Family Systems, and Attachment theories and began to develop modifications appropriate for working with adolescents.

Since the death of Dr. Paulina Kernberg in 2006, and after years of work to develop the AIT model during our clinical experience, we have finally presented this therapeutic technique being used in Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Mexico and Brazil, but also in Chile since 2008. But also, has facilitated the establishment of the following research groups:

Dra. Paulina Kernberg
  • New York (USA) Pamela Foelsch
  • Basel (Suiza) Klaus Schmeck y Susanne Schlüter-Müller
  • Ciudad de México (México) Moisés Kassin
  • Sao Paulo (Brasil) Leila Tardivo
  • Santiago (Chile) Andrés Borzutzky

Pamela Foelsch, PhD


Project Leader

This project began in 2004 through discussions with Dr. Paulina Kernberg. Dr. Foelsch began working with Dr. Otto Kernberg’s group in 1993 while an Intern at NYH-CMC-WD. When the Personality Disorders Institute was founded in July 1995, she became the first Post-Doctoral Fellow and served as the Project Coordinator for the Treatment Development Study (Dr. John Clarkin, Principal Investigator) which began the process of transforming Dr. Kernberg’s clinical approach to treating severe personality disorders into a manualized treatment with empirical evidence for it’s effectiveness. Dr. Foelsch served as the Head of the Infomatics and Statistical Core for the Randomized Clinical Trial comparing TFP with DBT and Supportive Psychotherapy in the treatment of patients with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). During this time, Dr. Foelsch was trained and supervised in TFP by the originator of this treatment, Dr. Otto Kernberg, and became a teacher and supervisor of TFP as a Fellow in the PDI, training nationally and internationally for 18 years.
Dr. Foelsch currently participates as Associated Researcher in the Millennium Research Institute Depression and Personality (MIDAP) of Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. It is also in charge of the AIT Training Program as well as Supervisor of the Adolescent Unit in the Instituto Médico Schilkrut.

k. schmeck s. schluter-muller

Shortly before Dr. Paulina Kernberg’s passing in 2006, she introduced Drs. Klaus Schmeck and Susanne Schlüter-Müller to Dr. Foelsch, knowing that the Basel group was interested in exploring more effective ways of working with children and adolescents who showed problems with identity formation. A fruitful collaboration was born. A group of clinicians were introduced to the basics of TFP and the modifications for treating adolescents in March of 2008. A paper was co-authored in Persönlichkeitsstörungen (2008, 153-162). In 2011, their team began work on the AIDA, a self-report instrument to assess identity development. This has now been translated into different languages and is currently being cross-cultrually validated for research and clinical use. In 2013, Dr. Schmeck began leading a mutlitsite study to identify and characterize the mechanisms of change associated with the effectiveness of the model AIT. This study was carried out jointly with the Research Unit of the Instituto Médico Schilkrut that is in charge of Dr. Nelson Valdés, who plays at the same time the role of Adjunct Researcher in the Millennium Institute for Research in Depression and Personality.

A. Borzutzky

Began working with us while a Visiting Fellow at the Personality Disorders Institute from 2007-2008. He became very interested in our developing treatment, as a method he could bring to an adolescent specialty unit at the Schilkrut Instituto Medico in Santiago. Dr Foelsch was invited to give a presentation in August 2008, and met with clinical staff to discuss cases. A collaboration involving ongoing supervision continues, and in 2013 a collaborative network was established between Instituto Médico Schilkrut and the Millennium Institute for Research in Depression and Personality (MIDAP), in order to combine efforts to implement a multicenter study to evaluate the efficacy of the AIT model.

Moises Kassin first became aquanted with the AIT model while participating in a training week on TFP at the Personality Disorders Institute in 2008. His clinical interest in adolescents and personality pathology made AIT a natural fit for his work, and he began following the development of the model. He has assisted with the Spanish translation of the manual, and has now formed a group to begin AIT training in order to join in the international multisite study of the efficacy of AIT.

Psychologist degree obtained at the Universidad de Panamá (1996). He obtained the Master degree in Clinical Psychology (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (2004), and later the degree of Doctor in Psychotherapy (2012) carried out jointly by the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and the Heidelberg University (Germany). He has been in charge of the Research Unit at the Instituto Médico Schilkrut since 2012. He was in charge of the validation process of the questionnaire used to assess the development of identity in adolescents (AIDA; Assessment of Identity Development in Adolescence). Currently, he has the role of Adjunct Researcher at the Millennium Institute for the Research of Depression and Personality (MIDAP). He is in charge of the Chilean Study that is part of the multicultural project between Chile and Switzerland, which aims to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Model AIT from microanalysis therapeutic processes.

Student of Clinical Psychology at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Currently, she works as an Assistant of the Research Unit at the Instituto Médico Schilkrut, specifically in charge of the protocol for evaluating participants in the multicultural project “Mechanisms of change involved in the effectiveness of the AIT Model in adolescents with personality disorders and depression”. She is in charge of collecting, analyzing and interpreting the results generated from the evaluations at different stages of the project. Additionally, she collaborates in the analysis of therapeutic sessions, focusing on identifying frames of therapeutic change, ruptures of the alliance and resolutions in each session.