Mentalizing refers to our ability to attend to mental states in ourselves and in others as we attempt to understand our own actions and those of others on the basis of intentional mental states.
If we are mentalizing successfully, we are able to understand what is going on in our own minds and in the minds of other people, and realise how this is effecting the emotions, thoughts, and actions of ourselves and others. This understanding of our own perspectives as well as those of other people leads to more successful interactions and social relationships.
In some mental health disorders, such as personality disorders, individuals can be impaired in their ability to mentalize. This can lead to misunderstandings regarding emotions, thoughts and actions, and result in breakdowns in interactions and relationships. It is vital that individuals learn to mentalize successfully in order to improve mental health and social function.
Teaching individuals to mentalize as a therapeutic intervention forms the core of Mentalization Based Treatment (MBT). This evidence-based treatment has been shown to be highly effective in treating Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), and as a result has gained national and international attention. For information on the MBT training programme that will qualify you to implement MBT when treating BPD, see Mentalization Based Treatment Training Programme
MBT was initially developed for the treatment of BPD, but it is now being used for a wide range of disorders. This programme focuses on MBT for BPD, but training programmes are now available for MBT for antisocial personality disorder, families, adolescents, and more. See Other MBT Courses for more information.
Our Chief Executive Peter Fonagy talks more about Mentalization in the interview below.