What Counseling Treats BPD?

By Robert Porter|Updated September 30, 2022

People who have borderline personality disorder (BPD) may have a difficult time with their own feelings, perceived feelings about others, and relationships. One of the most useful forms of therapy to treat borderline personality disorder is known as mentalization-based therapy. This disorder changes the way that people think about themselves and others. BPD can make it more difficult to function in normal everyday life. Many people who have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder experience extreme mood swings and impulsive behavior. They may also have a distorted self-image, but mentalization-based therapy can help.

This does not mean that the condition is not manageable, though. There are a large number of people who have borderline personality disorder who manage their conditions successfully. It is simply important to seek out the help of professionals to keep move forward. 

If you have never heard of this type of therapy before, then you are likely wondering what it is. This is a type of therapy that combines many approaches into one treatment plan. Continue reading as mentalization-based therapy is examined in full. It will give you a better understanding of what this type of therapy entails while also helping you to see if it is the right treatment option for you.

The Basics Of Mentalization-Based Therapy

To fully understand mentalization-based therapy, you need to know about the different types of therapy that are a part of it. This therapy takes elements from cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoanalytical therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and social therapy. It is a therapy that helps people to think about things before taking action.

People who have borderline personality disorder have a hard time understanding the differences between how they feel and how those around them feel. This can lead to a disconnect and brings about many different problems. The idea behind mentalization-based therapy is to give patients a chance to change the way that they are thinking about themselves, others, and the situations that they are in. It uses the therapy techniques from many other therapy styles to accomplish this.

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Curious About Mentalization-Based Therapy?

The first step in mentalization-based therapy is to allow the patient to establish a trusting relationship with the therapist. This needs to build up so that the patient will feel safe while discussing deeply personal topics. Patients need to be able to explore their feelings in an environment where they will not be judged. This gives them the chance to learn and to come to terms with how they feel as well as how others may feel.

Over time, patients will be able to develop their capacity for mentalization fully. It will become easier for them to recognize things that were not clear before. Many people who have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder tend to react quickly to their feelings. This will be challenged through mentalization-based therapy. This therapy teaches patients to think about things before reacting to them.

The process of this therapy method will teach patients how to process their feelings more effectively. They will also come to a better understanding of other people’s thoughts. One of the biggest challenges that borderline personality disorder patients face is understanding other people. Improved mentalization abilities make it easier for them to understand the feelings of others. They will come to understand that the feelings, behaviors, and actions of other people may not be how they originally assumed they would be.

This therapy is about both mentalizing your feelings and thoughts as well as those of others. This will involve thinking about what is causing other people to think about the way that they do. The therapy teaches empathy and makes it easier for patients to relate to those around them. These skills may come naturally to some people, but for those who have a borderline personality disorder, this is a very important process.

Commonly Asked Questions

How does mentalization based therapy work?

So, how does mentalization based treatment work? Patients treated under this method will meet with mental health professionals in mentalization-based interventions such as social-ecological therapies. Mentalization helps patients differentiate between their own thoughts and feelings and those of others.

Although it can help other mental health issues, MBT treatment is best for those with BPD or other personality disorders. 

Is mentalization based therapy effective?

The practices used in mentalization based treatment versus other types of treatment are shown to be effective in helping understand a patient’s emotions and manage difficult behaviors in a safe environment. MBT practitioners are specialists in BPD and understand how the practices used in MBT can help people with certain symptoms find healing, which makes them a good option for someone looking for extremely personalized care.

The American Journal of Psychiatry did a study that showed those with BPD with significant childhood trauma found more healing from MBT therapy than those who didn’t. The World Psychiatry Association also recommends the treatment.

What Else Does Mentalization-Based Therapy Treat?

Although mentalization-based therapy is primarily used to treat borderline personality disorder, it can also be used for other purposes. Sometimes this treatment method is used to help patients who are suffering from extreme forms of depression. Elements of this therapy may also help certain people who are suffering from really bad social anxiety disorders.

This is mostly going to be a type of therapy that is used to help those with a borderline personality disorder, though. It is a common enough condition that many people need assistance. It can help to give people a better emotional understanding of others. This helps people to keep their own emotions in check as well. Since statistics show that up to 1.6% of adults in the United States may have a borderline personality disorder, it is easy to see why mentalization-based therapy is an important treatment option.

Other Treatments For Borderline Personality Disorder

Sometimes mentalization-based therapy will not be enough to treat borderline personality disorder by itself. Many patients will need help to regulate their unstable moods. There is various mood stabilizing prescription medications that are commonly used for those who have this condition. Patients may also need help to alleviate depression symptoms, anxiety problems, and more.

It is not uncommon for those who have borderline personality disorder to take anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications, and mood stabilizers. Some patients may even be prescribed antipsychotic medications to help regulate certain problems. There are also many people who have borderline personality disorder who do not need medication and can manage their condition purely through the use of therapy. Mentalization-based therapy is the most common therapeutic approach, but there are also others that are used to treat the condition.

Dialectical behavior therapy is another extremely common therapy that is used to help manage borderline personality disorder. This therapy can occur either in a group setting or individually. It is about helping patients to develop skills to manage emotions better. It can help people to improve their relationships with others and also makes it easier for them to deal with stressful situations.

Schema-focused therapy is another common approach to treating this condition. This is a therapy that is focused on identifying unmet needs that a patient may have. These unmet needs may be throwing a patient into a negative behavior pattern. Learning to meet these needs positively can potentially help people to live their lives with fewer problems.

You Can Get Better Over Time

If you have a borderline personality disorder, then you should know that you can get better over time. This condition can make many things in life more difficult, but you will be able to overcome this. Working together with professionals is going to allow you to gain the necessary skills. Methods such as mentalization-based therapy are important for ensuring that you can make progress toward your ultimate goal.

It is not always going to be easy to manage your thoughts and emotions when suffering from this condition. The techniques that are used in mentalization-based therapy can make a big difference. They will allow you to relate to others more readily and you can start to regulate your emotional state better. Finding the right therapist that can help you is going to be an important step toward healing.

Take the time to reach out to a therapist if you need help. This is a difficult condition to manage, and you should never try to do everything on your own. There are people out there who care about you. Your therapist will be ready to help you make progress, and you can move on toward happier days in your life.

Consider Online Options

Curious About Mentalization-Based Therapy?
There are online therapy options for those who have a borderline personality disorder. For many people, online therapy is going to be the most practical option to consider. It has some advantages when compared to traditional therapy methods. For instance, you will be able to enjoy a much more flexible therapy schedule.
Normal therapy offices will have set hours, and you will need to try to fit in therapy sessions during those times. This is not always the best situation for those who are busy professionals. If you have a difficult time scheduling therapy session during normal office hours, then this is going to work out perfectly. You will be able to reach out to receive therapy during the evening or even on weekends if that works out better for you.
Being able to take advantage of mentalization-based therapy techniques online is great. You will be working with licensed online therapists who can help you to get things on track. They understand what needs to be done to help you find success. You will be able to get the results that you are seeking in the most convenient way possible.
There are even a variety of different therapy options. You can take advantage of video therapy, or you can speak with a therapist over the phone. Simply sign up for online therapy today to get started. It will not take long for you to get everything going and it will prove to be exactly what you need to work on your issues. Progress is possible when you have dedicated online therapists to rely on.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How does Mentalization based therapy work?
Mentalization based treatment MBT is a long term therapeutic model that helps people understand and reflect upon their own mental state. Its goal is to help people with borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, bipolar disorder or other serious disorders have a more whole understanding of what they’re feeling.
Through a variety of techniques, therapists attempt to help individuals gain a more mindful approach to their own thoughts and feelings.
What does Mentalization mean?
Mentalization based therapy MBT is based on the core idea of Mentalization, which can be simply defined by having an understanding of what’s going on inside your own mind, along with those around you. The ability to mentalize is what can prevent you from making irrational decisions, or not fully understanding your emotional or physiological state.
Mentalization is inherent in some people, and not in others. It’s crucial that people with severe mental health disorders find a therapist that can adapt their treatment plan to their needs.

Why is Mentalization important?

When struggling with emotional arousal, such as the ‘flight or fight’ response, it can be hard to ascertain which feelings are rational. Mentalization based treatment MBT is highly focused on an individual’s capacity to mentalize, prevent detrimental mental states, and be able to handle emotional arousal in a productive way.
Other forms of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, also develop ways of handling thought processes and can have positive results. The best way to figure out which approach will work best for you is to find a therapist you connect to.

What is the STEPPS program?

The acronym STEPPS stands for Systems Training for Emotional Predictability and Problem Solving. It is a 20-22 week program designed to help people who struggle with borderline personality disorder. Health professionals use evidence based techniques in the format of a support group to help people with BPD focus their goals and understand their emotional triggers.
The STEPPS program is very structured, and involves both group and individual therapy. People with BPD often enjoy it because not only do they find a therapist, but a support group they meet with weekly.

What are the main points of dialectical behavior therapy?

Patients who are treated with dialectical behavior therapy often have great results; especially people who struggle with personality disorders. DBT methods can also be used for family therapy and therapeutic intervention.

When working with a DBT therapist, there are four main goals:

  • Distress tolerance.
  • Emotional regulation.
  • Interpersonal effectiveness.

What does psychodynamic therapy focus on?

The goals of psychodynamic therapy are a stronger understanding of how past experiences have an effect on current behavior, and developing an overall stronger sense of self-awareness.

Stemming from the work of Sigmund Freud, psychodynamic therapy highlights unconscious psychological processes and past situations as the core reasons behind someone’s personality and mental health.

What is Mentalization in relation to Fonagy?

Peter Fonagy and Anthony Bateman are the two founding therapists behind the term Mentalization. Rooted in attachment theory, Mentalization and how it could be beneficial for certain mental illnesses soon became an evidence based model. Mentalization based therapy MBT is now used to treat a variety of mental health disorders.
Peter Fonagy is currently a director at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children. The centre aims to use child and family therapy to help children who have been abused restore their confidence in adults.

What is reflective functioning?

Reflective functioning is another word for mentalizing. It is a human capability that involves understanding behavior, and how it’s connected to underlying mental states and desires.

What is schema therapy used for?

Schema therapy is a newer type of therapy that combines elements of attachment theory, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoanalysis, and emotion-focused therapy.
Schema therapy is often used to treat people with personality disorders. It’s an integrative treatment plan that’s often used when a patient hasn’t seen enough progress with other approaches to therapy.
Mental health issues can be taxing for both you and your family, and schema therapy attempts to restructure the ways in which you ensure your emotional needs are met.

What is the difference between theory of mind and Mentalization?

Both theory of mind and Mentalization are psychological terms that involve social skills, and an individual’s struggle to understand their own thoughts productively.

The main difference between these two concepts is that theory of mind focuses on epistemic states such as beliefs, intentions and persuasions. It’s often used to describe someone who has a theory of mind deficit. That would be someone (often children) who struggles to understand empathy, the intentions behind other people’s behavior.

Mentalization, on the other hand, is mainly concerned with reactive mental states, and the behaviors that are associated with them.

What is MBT?

MBT is an acronym for Mentalization based therapy. Mentalization based therapy MBT is an evidence based type of therapy that was originally created to help people with personality disorders. Nowadays, some therapists also use this therapy model to help people with eating disorders, or who struggle generally with how to handle changes in their mental states.

What is epistemic trust?

Once you find a therapist, it’s imperative to try and engage your epistemic trust. Epistemic Trust is your willingness to consider new information as relevant, and therefore of value to integrate into your life. Some research suggests that there is strong correlation between a lack of epistemic trust in individuals with BPD.

Mental health treatment counts on epistemic trust in order to be effective. To get a better handle on your emotional arousal and mental states, you must be willing to trust your therapist and implement changes in your life.

What is the best mood stabilizer for borderline personality disorder?

When people with BPD find a therapist they want to work with, mood stabilizing medication may be brought up as an option. There are a variety of options available for psychiatric treatment. The term mood stabilizer is used to describe any medication that reduces the frequency of intense mood shifts.

If you’re struggling with BPD and you’re curious about starting mood stabilizers, the best thing you can do is find a therapist to create a treatment plan specific to you.

What triggers a person with borderline personality disorder?

Research suggests that the most common BPD triggers come from interpersonal relationships. Many have strong beliefs and behaviors that are connected to feelings of abandonment, and these can be activated when having issues with friends or family.

This is why a combination of behavior therapy, family therapy and support groups tend to be a good way for people with BPD to develop their social skills and have more control of their mental states. Therapy is the best way for people with BPD to improve relationships, control emotional arousal, and get a better handle on their thoughts and feelings.
Randomized controlled trials are one of the ways that psychologists figure out how effective treatment is. It’s with this data that we’re able to understand these complicated mental health disorders with more success.
Partial hospitalization is an evidence based treatment plan that involves people with mental health disorders committing to therapy 7 days a week. They continue to stay overnight at their homes, but return every day for structured programming. People with borderline personality disorder often find that the combination behavior therapy, and social aspect of their support groups can create more lasting, meaningful change in tackling their mental health struggles.
If you feel like you could benefit from Mentalization based therapy MBT, take time to find a therapist that you feel safe with.
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