Psychotherapy describes various evidence-based treatment models that help clients work through specific mental health issues, navigate harmful thoughts and behaviors, build skills to improve daily functioning and make life more enjoyable. One form of Psychotherapy is Mentalization-Based Therapy (MBT). MBT revolves around the skill of mentalization, which allows you to identify and understand your emotional state clearly. Mentalization also gives you an understanding of how other people’s actions reflect their mental and emotional states.
Mentalization-Based Therapy is a common and effective way to treat a variety of Mental Health Disorders, particularly Borderline Personality Disorder. Undergoing MBT with a Licensed Clinical Psychologist gives you the skills you need to strengthen your ability to mentalize, which in turn helps you navigate your Mental Health Disorder or other emotional and mental challenges that arise in life. Learn more about how MBT can help patients as part of a comprehensive, evidence-based treatment plan with this overview of things to know about Mentalization-Based Therapy.
What Is Mentalization-Based Therapy?
Emotions play an intrinsic role in human interaction. The ability to identify and interpret the emotions behind human actions and behavior is a common skill we use daily. However, some people—such as those with Borderline Personality Disorder—have a more challenging time mentalizing than others.
Mentalization-Based Therapy teaches patients to process their thoughts and feelings to regulate their emotions better. This helps patients alleviate or avoid problematic behaviors that stem from their Mental Health Disorder. Essentially, MBT strengthens your ability to mentalize healthily and productively.
Mentalization-Based Therapy is not a quick solution to Borderline Personality Disorder or other Mental Health Disorders. Instead, MBT takes time and dedication as you work with a Licensed Clinical Psychologist to develop these skills.
The Importance of Mentalization
One of the most important things to know about Mentalization-Based Therapy is how essential mentalization is in daily life. Struggling to mentalize means struggling to understand the emotions and actions of yourself and others. This can cause you to misunderstand or mistake other people’s intentions and behaviors, leading to impulsive or inappropriate reactions that harm your relationships with others. Reduced capacity for mentalization can prove disruptive and even dangerous, and it can lead to consequences in friendships, romantic relationships, professional relationships, and more.
Mentalization is also crucial in regulating your own emotions. Suppose you struggle to correctly identify your feelings and how they affect your thoughts and behaviors. In that case, you will have a harder time controlling and reacting to those feelings appropriately. Once again, reduced capacity for mentalization can lead to harmful behaviors, such as inappropriate reactions to certain situations.
Complications With Mentalization
What harms your capacity for mentalization? For most people, mentalization is a subconscious skill learned in early childhood, often through a secure attachment to a primary caregiver. As such, problems with mentalization frequently stem from insecure attachments, abandonment issues, and other problems involving early childhood.
Reaching adulthood with a diminished capacity for mentalization creates challenges and obstacles—especially in relationships—but it doesn’t have to be a permanent issue. Mentalization-Based Therapy is a way to build mentalization skills in adulthood and strengthen your ability to understand the intersection of emotion and action in yourself and others.
Focusing on the Present Rather Than the Past
Many therapy modules seek to generate new insight by reflecting on how past events affect your current behaviors and state of mind. On the other hand, Mentalization-Based Therapy focuses more on present experiences and your current emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.
By focusing on the ability to think before reacting to thoughts and feelings, MBT helps patients process their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors more constructively. MBT can also focus on the ability to mentalize in the face of other people’s thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. Overall, MBT seeks to build a stronger awareness of emotions, actions, and thought processes so that patients can better understand themselves and those around them. This improves social skills, builds stronger relationships, and helps patients alleviate negative thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in favor of more constructive thinking patterns.
Mentalization-Based Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder
Mentalization-Based Therapy is an effective treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder. Individuals who struggle with BPD often have a more challenging time understanding their feelings and the feelings of those around them. Struggling to mentalize is one potential cause of the emotional instability characteristic of Borderline Personality Disorder.
BPD and an inability to mentalize make it more difficult to empathize with others, leading to inappropriate or harmful reactions in certain situations, disruptive patterns in your relationships, and other consequences. Poor emotional regulation, suspicion, paranoia about others’ intentions, and other symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder can all stem from or be worsened by an inability to mentalize. As such, Mentalization-Based Therapy helps patients build the essential skills to alleviate or navigate these symptoms along with other negative thoughts and behaviors.
Other Disorders That Benefit From Mentalization-Based Therapy
Borderline Personality Disorder isn’t the only Mental Health Disorder that can benefit from Mentalization-Based Therapy. Mentalization is an essential skill for everyone, which means MBT can benefit anyone who struggles with this practice. MBT is effective in treating Addiction Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, anger management, relationship issues, trauma, and more.
Mentalization-Based Therapy as Part of a Comprehensive Treatment Plan
Like other forms of therapy, MBT is most effective as part of a comprehensive and multi-pronged approach to mental health treatment. Other forms of treatment, such as Psychoanalytic Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, work well alongside Mentalization-Based Therapy to help patients bring new meaning to their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. When MBT is part of a specialized treatment plan, it and other therapy models allow patients to build more positive thought processes and behaviors.
Blair Wellness Group uses Mentalization-Based Therapy alongside other evidence-based therapies to create tailored treatment plans for Borderline Personality Disorder and other Mental Health Disorders. As an experienced Personality Disorder Psychologist, Dr. Blair offers proven therapies to address the specific needs, symptoms, and challenges of your experience with Mental Health Disorders. Reach out to the team at Blair Wellness Group today to learn how MBT can play a role in your journey to better mental health.