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Mentalisation Based Treatment

Mentalisation-based treatment (MBT) is an attachment based therapy that focuses on developing an individual’s ability to recognise thoughts, feelings, wishes and desires and understand how they might be linked to behaviour.

Mentalisation has been defined as the ability to understand what is in one’s own mind and in other people’s minds in terms of intentional mental states. In this model the assumption is that the capacity to mentalise develops through interactions with one’s caregiver in childhood. When children grow up in environments that are chaotic and unpredictable with caregivers who might themselves suffer from emotional difficulties the development of the capacity to mentalise can become disrupted.

In MBT the main focus of the therapy is to facilitate the client’s developing ability to ‘mentalise’ in the service of developing healthy and fulfilling relationships. MBT is one of the main evidence based therapies for the treatment of borderline personality disorder (BPD).

What can I expect if I receive MBT?

  • The focus of MBT is on the interaction between the client and the therapist.
  • In MBT the therapist will focus on the present rather than the past and will work to enhance your ability to understand relationships and what happens in other people’s minds.
  • In the session the therapist is likely to ask you to ‘stop and think’ particularly if you become emotionally activated by a situation or interaction. This strategy is utilised because intense emotions usually interfere with an individual’s ability to mentalise in the moment.
  • In MBT your therapist will be asking you questions about your thinking and about how your thoughts relate to your behaviour. They will not usually offer you advice or an opinion.
  • The aim of the therapy is to help you explore your internal states and develop new ways of mentalising.