Frequently Asked Questions About Mentalization-Based Therapy

The joy in knowing that you are about to become a parent is beyond compare. Certainly, there is overwhelming excitement, especially for mothers, upon knowing that you are pregnant with your child. 

While there is nothing quite like the feeling of finally becoming a parent, the journey can be quite a challenge.

Becoming pregnant and going through the different bodily and hormonal changes can take a toll on a mom’s life. Added to that is the ongoing health crisis; the worries can even double for the soon-to-be mom.

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But knowing how to mentalize can help to deal with times when you’re more likely to experience unstable mood swings like pregnancy.

During the pandemic, keeping our mental health in check has been a struggle, more so for pregnant women. So it is crucial to keep stressors at bay to keep healthy for two. 

One of the ways to reduce anxiety and stress during pregnancy in the pandemic can be through mentalization. Mentalization is the ability to understand your mental state and its effects on overt behavior. It takes a degree of self-awareness to mentalize. 

Conceptually similar to metacognition, mentalization is “thinking about thinking.” Since it requires self-awareness of underlying feelings and thoughts and their consequences, intense emotions weaken mentalization. 

Aside from pregnant women, those with borderline personality disorder (BPD) can also benefit from this. BPD is a mental disorder that is marked by the instability of moods, relationships, and self-concept.

People with it often succumb to taking impulsive actions due to intense emotions. Other unpleasant symptoms of BPD also include the fear of abandonment and paranoia. 

Because of the sudden shifts this mental illness causes, it is crucial to raise your self-awareness to prevent unwanted consequences. Paying attention to your mental state and having foresight can help reduce the risk of taking thoughtless actions.  

Mentalization-based therapy is a good starting point for people who want to learn how to mentalize and be more aware of themselves. In times of uncertainty, it is helpful to feel more in control by having more awareness within ourselves. 

We have compiled some frequently asked questions on the topic for more information on how mentalization-based therapy works.

How does Mentalization-based therapy work?

Mentalization-based therapy or MBT helps people with borderline personality disorder and other mental health problems increase their mentalization ability. Therapists use different techniques in this evidence-based treatment to help individuals explore their mental states, thoughts, and feelings, and others.

This therapy results in increased mentalization to better understand the self and regulate emotions and thoughts.

What does Mentalization mean?

Mentalization is a process of understanding ourselves and others’ mental states and emotions. This term also refers to your capacity to reflect upon your thoughts and feelings and others’ as well.

Why is Mentalization important?

Mentalization is essential because it helps you have a better sense of yourself and your identity. Increased mentalization allows you to have a better understanding of yourself and other people’s thoughts and emotions. It will also help you regulate and rationalize your mental states.

What is the STEPPS program?

The STEPPS or System Training for Emotional Predictability and Problem Solving program is a research-based treatment for borderline personality disorder individuals.

It is a 22-week therapy wherein individuals meet for two-hour sessions to learn how to change their behaviors and manage their feelings. This program is done in groups.

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What does psychodynamic therapy focus on?

Psychodynamic therapy focuses on the unconscious psychological processes of your emotions. These are considered as the roots of your emotional suffering and may include your wishes and fears.

What is Mentalization Fonagy?

Peter Fonagy and Anthony Bateman coined the term mentalization to refer to your ability to understand and reflect upon yours and others’ mental states. They expanded the idea of the attachment theory and further developed it to result in better emotional regulation.

What is reflective functioning?

Reflective functioning is a term that refers to your capacity to understand your and others’ mental states, which includes your feelings, thoughts, and desires.

What is schema therapy used for?

Schema therapy is a useful treatment for borderline personality disorder. With the therapist’s help, the individual with this mental health problem will understand their maladaptive schemas.

These refer to the unhelpful patterns that develop from unmet childhood emotional needs.

What is the difference between the theory of mind and Mentalization?

The main difference between the theory of mind and mentalization is the mental state it focuses on. The former focuses on epistemic states like beliefs and intentions.

In contrast, the latter focuses on affective states, which concern emotions and desires. But both concepts help individuals in better understanding themselves and others.

What is MBT?

MBT or mentalization-based therapy is a research-based treatment used to help individuals with borderline personality disorder.

This therapy involves improving your mentalization to understand better and identify your and others’ mental states and regulate your own thoughts and emotions better. The techniques used during this therapy will vary from patient to patient and therapist to therapist.

What is epistemic trust?

The epistemic trust also referred to as ET, is a person’s capacity to trust new information and consider it relevant to integrate into their lives.

This concept is regarded as a key target in treating individuals with a borderline personality disorder. It allows them to accept new information about how to improve their mentalization.

What is the best mood stabilizer for a borderline personality disorder?

The drug that has been used for quite a long time is Lithobid or lithium carbonate. This mood stabilizer helps with this mental condition’s basic psychopathological features, including anger and self-harming behavior.

What triggers a person with a borderline personality disorder?

The two main triggers for a person with borderline personality disorder are relationship and cognitive triggers. People with this psychological condition have issues with abandonment. So they may experience intense fear and anger when they encounter rejection and criticism.

Sometimes, the triggers come from sudden thoughts of traumatic events or loss, but some people are also triggered by memories of happy times.

What is the goal of TeamSTEPPS?

TeamSTEPPS aims to provide optimal patient care by improving the skills of health care practitioners. This evidence-based set of tools integrates teamwork behaviors to better communication among healthcare workers, which may vary depending on the setting or situation.

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We all tend to think about thinking at times, and often, we are unaware of it. For example, people are likely to mentalize when they’re in love.

People in love often take time to contemplate their feelings and ask themselves questions like “Is this just an infatuation?” and, “What do I feel when I’m with this person?”

But for people with mental illness, knowing how to reign in thoughts is imperative to have a better quality of life. People who suffer from depression and other mental illnesses can reap the benefits of MBT. This type of therapy helps with knowing how to take a step back from emotional encounters and thoughts.

Mentalization-based therapy aims to recalibrate thoughts and improve your way of thinking. It can help people take control of their thoughts and be more adaptable to life’s stressors. 

Contrary to popular belief, going to therapy and seeking help isn’t just for people with mental illnesses. It can also help those who want to keep their minds healthy.

Whether you are going through a difficult phase in your life like pregnancy, suffering through BPD, or merely improving yourself, mentalization-based therapy can certainly help you.