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Mentalization Based Treatment (MBT)

Mentalization Based Treatment (MBT) is an evidence-based treatment developed by Peter Fonagy and Andrew Bateman of the Anna Freud Center in London, England. Mentalization is the ability to understand our own perceptions and the perceptions of other people, along with the world around us. It means being able to understand yourself and to have a better understanding of other people around you while considering the situation or circumstances in which all of this is happening. It’s kinda like a superpower, once you get the hang of it.


There are many components to MBT, and a big one is being curious and taking a “not knowing” stance about your own thoughts and feelings as well as those of other people around you. In many instances, we make assumptions that simply are not true which can lead to responding in a way we wouldn’t have if we had just paused. One of the hardest things for people to do is to pause or stop before reacting to something. We all do this; there is no exception. Pausing allows us to consider whether what we are feeling or reacting to is what is actually happening. For example, if your friend didn’t show up to your birthday dinner party, you may get upset unless you pause and think, “hey maybe something happened that I don’t know about.” Of course, no one can mentalize all the time. That’s not possible, nor is that the goal. The goal of MBT is to improve mentalization overall so that the person can interact in life in a more successful way.


MBT was originally created to specifically treat BPD, but it has been generalized for most other diagnoses and is the predominant framework used at this practice. 

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