Treatment & Therapy

How Mentalization-Based Therapy Works to Treat BPD

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Mentalization-Based TherapyLike most personality disorders, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is extremely hard to treat. Psychotherapy sometimes fails because patients can get too attached to their therapist, and might take it personally if something even trivial goes wrong. Since individuals with BPD can often be aggressive and display self-harmful behaviors, therapists sometimes find it hard to treat them.

Therapists generally use Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Borderline Personality Disorder treatment. However, Mentalization-Based Therapy (MBT) has also proven to be effective in improving the condition of those with BPD.

What Is Mentalization-Based Therapy?

Mentalization-Based Therapy is centered around improving the mentalizing skills of people with Borderline Personality Disorder. Mentalization is a psychodynamic approach that helps people with BPD better analyze their thoughts and figure out how they’re different from others.

When you mentalize, you are trying to understand the motive behind the actions of others by understanding their mental states. Our brains have mirror neurons that activate the same region in our brains that is being activated in another person undergoing some kind of emotion. By trying to understand the other person’s mental state and its origin, you can better understand why people think or behave a certain way and be more attuned to your own emotions, thoughts, and needs.

Most of us are capable of mentalizing to a certain extent. According to Anthony Bateman and Peter Fonagy, the founders of Mentalization-Based Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder, the ability of people with BPD to mentalize is impaired because of their particular biological predisposition and past experiences. Child-caretaker relationships during early childhood are very important for the development of mentalizing skills. If these relationships are disrupted by such traumatic events as sexual abuse, violence, or the death of a parent, a child may be unable to mentalize as an adult.

A therapist who uses Mentalization-Based Therapy will focus on your past and present relationships, working via the attachment system.

Mentalization-Based Therapy can be used during both group therapy and individual treatment. MBT is often used in conjunction with medication management.

Benefits of Mentalization-Based Therapy

Research by Bateman and Fonagy found that people who received BPD treatment using Mentalization-Based Therapy were emotionally better than those who opted for standard treatment. Patients who had undergone an intensive MBT program showed reduced levels of deliberate self-harm, suicide attempts, anxiety, and depression, and were functioning better socially.

If you are struggling with Borderline Personality Disorder, Mentalization-Based Therapy can enable you to develop more fulfilling and balanced relationships, and more effectively work toward your personal goals.

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