Although we commonly work with patients with emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD) in community mental health teams (CMHTs), only some enter evidence-based psychological therapies. Many patients are not considered ready to engage in specialist treatments and remain in CMHTs without any clear focus or structure to their treatment, which is unsatisfactory for patients, clinicians and services. We present a fictional case and synthesise available literature and lived experience to explore readiness and ways to promote it. We highlight relevant issues for trainees to consider in practice. Patients with EUPD who have not received specialist treatment can be considered in terms of the transtheoretical model's stages of change. Identifying a patient's stage can help guide how to increase readiness for referral and decide when to refer. Interventions available to all healthcare professionals which may promote readiness include: psychoeducation, personal formulations, crisis planning, goal-setting, peer support, distress tolerance skills, motivational interviewing and mindfulness.