What is Mentalisation Based Therapy (MBT)?
Mentalisation-based therapy (MBT) is an attachment based therapy that focuses on helping you recognise your thoughts, feelings and desires and understand how they might be linked to your behaviour.
Mentalisation is essentially the ability to think about thinking. In MBT, the assumption is that this ability to mentalise develops through interactions with our caregiver in childhood. When children grow up in environments that are chaotic and unpredictable – and with caregivers who might suffer from emotional difficulties themselves – the development of the capacity to mentalise can become disrupted.
In MBT, the main focus of the therapy is to help you develop the ability to ‘mentalise’ in order to build healthy and fulfilling relationships.
MBT is one of the main evidence-based therapies for the treatment of borderline personality disorder (BPD).
What happens in 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, your 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
- Your therapist will ask 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
Frequently asked questions
You are likely to be offered Mentalisation Based Treatment if you’re really struggling with relationship difficulties and if your emotions are running high and you find it difficult to think and manage situations in a way that is consistently with your more adult goals.
Mentalisation has often been used for the treatment of personality disorder. We would tend to offer it when the essence of your difficulties is more relational and when we believe that developing an understanding of what’s going on in peoples minds would be of benefit;. Dbt is a more structured approach and would suit people who would want a more skills focused form of therapy.
It’s a long term therapeutic approach. You’re likely to see significant benefit after 9 – 12 months usually.