Tuesday Therapy Notes: Mentalization Based Therapy

Welcome once again to Tuesday Therapy Notes, the weekly series that examines types of therapy, as well as some of the common issues associated with therapy. For this week’s Tuesday Therapy Notes, I want to talk about mentalization-based therapy (MBT).

Mentalization-based therapy is a type of therapy that has been demonstrated to offer clinical benefits to individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD). But before we understand why it is effective, we have to understand what mentalization is, and what BPD is.

Mentalization is how we understand our sense of self. Mentalization is both an implicit and explicit way of defining ourselves, and it is crucial to our ability to recognize emotional shifts, such as anger, fear, sadness, happiness, etc. BPD compromises an individual’s ability to mentalize and form a sense of self. This can lead to a feeling of ’emptiness,’ difficulty regulating emotions, and unstable interpersonal relationships.

MBT as a way of addressing BPD is typically less structured than other forms of therapy. It is also best practiced over a long term. BPD patients form attachments to therapists quickly, and MBT acknowledges this, using this attachment to help BPD patients practice mentalization, increase their empathy, and increase their ability to mentalize. In group settings, non-specialized mental health workers can also implement this technique.

As a reminder, this series doesn’t help you find the right type of therapy for you. Rather, it gives you an introduction to some of the types of therapy that are out there, and common issues that are associated with therapy. Nor is it meant to be a substitute for therapy. Therapy has been incredibly productive for me, and the purpose of this series is simply to introduce others to some of the realities of therapy so they can benefit from it too if they need to.

And as always, thanks for reading.

Sources: NAMI – Psychotherapy; Mentalization based treatment for borderline personality disorder – NIH Publication

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