Mentalisation based therapy

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).

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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.

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Dr Elena Touroni

Dr Elena Touroni is a skilled and experienced consultant psychologist with a track record of delivering high-quality services for individuals with all common emotional difficulties and those with a diagnosis of personality disorder. She is experienced in service design and delivery, the management of multi-disciplinary teams, organisational consultancy, and development and delivery of both national and bespoke training to providers in the statutory and non-statutory sector.

Having obtained a first degree in Psychology (BSc) at the American College of Greece, she completed her doctoral training at the University of Surrey. Dr Touroni is highly experienced in the assessment and treatment of depression, anxiety, substance misuse, personality disorder, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, adjustment disorder and relationship difficulties. She works with both individuals and couples and can offer therapy in English and Greek.

Dr Touroni has held a variety of clinical and managerial positions including as Head of Service in the NHS. Further she has held academic positions for the University of Surrey and the Institute of Mental Health lecturing on specialist postgraduate Masters and Doctorate programmes.

She is trained in several specialist therapeutic approaches such as schema therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based approaches and Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT). As well as holding a variety of NHS positions, Dr. Touroni is the co-founder of a private practice in Central London that has been a provider of psychological therapy for all common emotional difficulties including personality disorder since 2002. She is the founder and one of two directors of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic.