What is Mentalization-Based Therapy?

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sad woman talking to a therapist

Therapy provides a great mechanism for individuals to work through their problems, learn more about themselves and others, gain perspective, develop tools to cope, and more. For people who suffer from borderline personality disorder BPD), several techniques may be used. There are a variety of holistic approaches that help people to work through a variety of symptoms that may be present in borderline personality disorder – mentalization-based therapy is one of them. Mentalization-based therapy (MBT) is a psychodynamically-oriented psychotherapy designed specifically to help individuals specifically with borderline personality disorder.

Researchers Bateman and Fonagy, in their 2010 study titled “Mentalization based treatment for Borderline personality disorder,” found that mentalization-based therapy has been an effective treatment tool for BPD. Mentalizing is a process by which individuals make sense of each other and themselves, both implicitly and explicitly, and in terms of subjective and mental processes. Founder and CEO of Psych Central, Dr. John Grohol stated in 2016 that mentalization is a learned skill and that, by working with a therapist, people with BPD can learn to better understand behavior and feelings and how they are associated with different mental states.

In 2011, MD Louis Choi-Kain from Harvard Medical School described mentalization as being comprised of two parties: the self, and other. Both parties have their own thoughts, feelings, motives, intentions, beliefs, desires, and needs. A person who suffers from BPD often has difficulty between imagined and real interaction with their own thoughts beliefs, etc. and understanding other’s thoughts, beliefs, etc. By partaking in MBT, a patient can work with a therapist to discover their own thoughts and reasons behind those thoughts and their behaviors.

People with BPD often have difficulty empathizing with others, have a history of unstable relationships, have strong feelings of anxiety and depression, have a dysfunctional self-image, and more. MBT can help people explore their symptoms further so that they can recover from negative self-talk and mental scripts. This approach to therapy is slightly different from therapeutic approaches such as dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) because it is psychodynamic – the patient and therapist interact more often with each other and work together more to help the person learn more about themselves and others.

If you suffer from borderline personality disorder, engaging in mentalization-based therapy could be very beneficial to you. The best way to know is to speak with your therapist about this approach. Seeking a therapist’s help is a great first step to your recovery, and could lead you to a happier, more productive life. Take action towards your overall health and well-being today by calling a therapist.






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