An Overview On Mentalization-Based Therapy

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Last Update on January 11, 2021 : Published on January 8, 2021
An Overview On Mentalization-Based Therapy

Mentalization-based therapy (MBT) is an evidence-based psychotherapy approach that combines aspects of psychodynamic therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and systematic approaches. This therapy model is specially designed to treat people with borderline personality disorder.

MBT focuses on a person’s ability to identify thoughts, feelings, and desires to understand how they are linked to their behavior. Mentalization covers a wide range of psychological activity that determines how people think and manage their emotions. Mentalizing is the strength to focus on and separate one’s emotions from that of others. It also intends to understand how a person’s mental state influences their behavior.

The aim of MBT is to improve a person’s capacity to mentalize and focus on what is going inside their minds more thoroughly.

A Brief History Of MBT

Mentalization-based therapy was developed by Peter Fonagy and Anthony Bateman for helping people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). People with BPD have trouble developing mentalization so this therapy aims at helping them improve mentalizing, improve self-identity, and reduce self-harm all the while strengthening interpersonal relationships.

MBT Can Help…

Mentalization-based therapy

Treating disorders and conditions like:

It can be helpful for people who suffer from long-term problems in relationships and who experience more emotional distress and overwhelming feelings that may cause behaviors such as self-harm and aggression towards themselves and others.

MBT can help children, young adults, and adults who experience psychological difficulties.

The goals of MBT include:

  • The betterment of behavior
  • Increasing feeling, emotion, and mood regulation
  • Increase the ability to follow life goals
  • Provide tools for a stable and gratifying relationship

How MBT Works

How MBT Works

Mentalization-based therapy helps people learn to think before they react to their feelings or that of others. It provides people with tools and abilities to mentalize their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and help them understand another person’s thoughts and feelings and how they may be different from how one interprets them.

During an MBT therapy session, a person focuses on difficulties in their present to improve the understanding of themselves and of others. They are encouraged to focus on what is going on in their mind and think about what might be going on in another person’s mind especially in situations that cause a strong emotional reaction and problematic behavior.

In the end, MBT can help a person gain a better understanding of how to control their impulses, actions, emotions, and behaviors. It can also help improve relationships with others.

MBT can be done in an individual setting and/or in a group setting.

Techniques Used In MBT

The primary aim of MBT is to increase a person’s ability to mentalize, as I’ve mentioned above. To help with that, a therapist focuses on a person’s mental state, which includes their thoughts, feelings, and wants. Regulating emotional reaction is necessary before a person sets on exploring how their mind or that of others work.

The techniques in MBT can vary. A therapist can ask questions to help a person explore their mental and emotional state or they can help a person understand their emotions by making interpretations.

While there are many different techniques used in this therapy model, therapists usually prefer to maintain a specific stance during the course of the therapy.  The therapy session provides a safe space for a person to explore and understand their mental and emotional processes.



While there are many different studies on how MBT can help patients with BPD, there is still much evidence to be collected. This therapy isn’t effective if you’re looking for short-term treatment.

Talking about situations that cause emotional distress can be hard and it can be even more difficult in a group therapy setting. If you’re looking for a trained counselor to help you, you can reach out to us in our services section here or you can write to us at

MBT isn’t effective for everyone but there are alternative approaches available like:

Although, it is recommended that you consult with a professional before finalizing a therapy approach. Many therapists may also prescribe medications along with the therapy to help with the treatment. Consult a physician for potential side-effects of such medications beforehand.

In conclusion, therapy of any kind can be difficult to go through. If you feel to discuss any worries or concerns, you can write to us.

With the help of proper therapy treatment, you can learn to live with your disorder and can improve the quality of your life, tenfold.

 “I’ve realized therapy is incredibly therapeutic.” – Lisa Schroeder

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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