Mentalisation Based Treatment

What is Mentalizing?

Mentalizing is to do with how our mind works.

  • It is how we understand what we feel and think, and why we are behaving as we are.
  • It is how we guess how others feel and thinks and why they are behaving as they are.
  • It is how we put these two things together to fully experience and understand our relationships and interactions with others.

In order to have good personal and social relationships with others, it is essential that we understand each other, and ourselves, reasonably accurately. What is going on in our mind to make us feel as we do? What is going on in the other person’s mind to make them behave like that?

Mentalizing is a skill that we all have, and some of us are better ‘mentalizers’ than others. However, mentalizing is often compromised under extreme stress. This means that we might lose the ability to reflect on our own behaviours or those of others, and to make sense of thoughts and feelings. 


What is Mentalization-based Treatment (MBT)?

MBT is a type of psychological therapy that aims to improve a person’s ability to mentalize in close relationships. Having improved mentalizing ability means:

  • Experiencing a more stable sense of who you are
  • Being less likely to let emotions get the better of you
  • When emotions do get the better of you, you are able to regain your composure quicker
  • Make better sense of other people

This should mean that you become clearer on your emotions and needs and how to express these, you engage less in harmful behaviours, you are less likely to get into interpersonal conflicts, and you are better able to deal with any conflicts that do arise.


Who is it for?

Temporary lapses in mentalizing happen to all of us at times of stress. Problems in mentalizing can also be seen as a symptom in most mental health difficulties. Long-term problems in lapsed mentalizing are the main underlying problem leading to difficulties seen in Borderline Personality Disorder, a common mental health problem. MBT is therefore used as a psychological therapy to help people to manage or reduce the symptoms of borderline personality disorder. This therapy is backed by good quality research.


How Does MBT Work in Practice?

To be good at something, you need to practise it. In the MBT programme, participants have the opportunity to learn about and practise mentalizing skills together with the therapist and with other group members.

MBT is a structured programme of therapy that starts with an educational group for 12 weeks where you learn more about mentalization, attachment and personality disorder. This is then followed by 18 months of weekly therapy that takes place both as one-to-one and in a group. After weekly therapy ends, you have a number of review sessions with the therapist in order to make sure that the progress you achieved in therapy is maintained.


When and where does it take place?

Gaskell House Psychotherapy Centre, Swinton Grove, Manchester. The group component of the therapy currently takes place on Tuesday while the one-to-one component takes place on different days depending on you and your therapist’s preferences.     

As a patient

As a service user, relative or carer using our services, sometimes you may need to turn to someone for help, advice, and support. 

Find resources for carers and service users  Contact the Trust