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Introduction to Mentalization. What is Mentalization It is the capacity to reflect on one’s own mental states (thoughts, feelings, beliefs, desires etc.)

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Presentation on theme: "Introduction to Mentalization. What is Mentalization It is the capacity to reflect on one’s own mental states (thoughts, feelings, beliefs, desires etc.)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Introduction to Mentalization

2 What is Mentalization It is the capacity to reflect on one’s own mental states (thoughts, feelings, beliefs, desires etc.) and to attribute mental states to others, as an explanation of their behaviour. Mentalization involves being able to recognise, tolerate and respond to one’s own, and others’, mental states. Mentalization is dependent on whether primary attachment figures recognise, tolerate and respond empathically to the infant. Deficits in care will impact on how an infant represents their own mental states, and also how they represent the thoughts, feelings, wishes and motives of an abusive, neglectful or poorly attuned primary attachment figure.

3 The Structure of Mentalization Based Treatment The overall aim of MBT is to develop a therapeutic process in which the mind of the patient becomes the focus of treatment. The objective is for the patient to find out more about how he thinks and feels about himself and others, how that dictates his responses to others and how ‘errors’ in understanding himself and others lead to actions in an attempt to retain stability and to make sense of incomprehensible feelings.

4 Trajectory of treatment There are three main phases to the trajectory of treatment. 1. The initial phase is assessment of mentalizing capacities, personality function and engaging the patient in treatment. Specific processes include giving a diagnosis, providing psychoeducation, establishing a hierarchy of therapeutic aims, stabilizing social and behavioural problems, reviewing medication and defining a crisis pathway. 2. During the middle sessions the aim of all the active therapeutic work is to stimulate an ever-increasing mentalizing ability. 3. In the final stage preparation is made for ending intensive treatment. This requires the therapist to focus on the feelings of loss associated with ending treatment and how to maintain gains that have been made, as well as developing, in conjunction with the patient, an appropriate follow-up programme tailored to his particular needs.

5 Questions that can reveal quality of mentalization (assessment) You described how your parents were with you, do you have any idea why they acted as they did? You described how your parents were with you, do you have any idea why they acted as they did? Do you think what happened to you as a child explains they way you are as an adult? Do you think what happened to you as a child explains they way you are as an adult? Can you think of anything that happened to you as a child that created problems for you? Can you think of anything that happened to you as a child that created problems for you? As a child did you ever feel that you were not wanted? As a child did you ever feel that you were not wanted? In relation to losses, abuse or other trauma, how did you feel at the time and how have your feelings changed over time? In relation to losses, abuse or other trauma, how did you feel at the time and how have your feelings changed over time? How has your relationship with your parents changed since childhood? How has your relationship with your parents changed since childhood? In what important ways have you changed since childhood? In what important ways have you changed since childhood?

6 Common assessment questions Questions Questions Looking back, can you think a bit about what made her behave like that? How do you explain his action? Is that something that has happened before? Is there any other explanation? What do other people think about it? Probes Probes I can see that you must have wanted to end the relationship but somehow you stuck it out. Tell me what made you carry on. You must have been so excited when the relationship started and felt so let down when he was unreliable. How did you manage those feelings?

7 Indication of very poor mentalizing during the assessment process 1. Anti-reflective hostility hostility active evasion non-verbal reactions 2. Bizarre responses 3. Failure of adequate elaboration complete lack of integration complete lack of explanation 4. Inappropriate complete non-sequiturs (no relation to what has gone before) gross assumptions about the interviewer literal meaning of words

8 Assessment of Mentalization (Non Mentalization) Concrete understanding Concrete understanding Generalised lack of mentalizing Generalised lack of mentalizing Pseudo-mentalizing Pseudo-mentalizing Looks like mentalizing but missing essential features Looks like mentalizing but missing essential features Misuse of mentalizing Misuse of mentalizing Others’ minds understood and thought about, but used to hurt, manipulate, control or undermine Others’ minds understood and thought about, but used to hurt, manipulate, control or undermine

9 Therapist Stance Mentalization Therapist continually questions his and patient’s internal mental state: What is happening now? What is happening now? Why is the patient saying this now? Why is the patient saying this now? Why is the patient behaving like this? Why is the patient behaving like this? Why am I feeling as I do now? Why am I feeling as I do now? What has happened recently in the therapy that may justify the current state? What has happened recently in the therapy that may justify the current state?

10 Therapist Stance Highlighting alternative perspectives I saw it as a way to control yourself rather than to attack me (patient explanation), can you think about that for a moment I saw it as a way to control yourself rather than to attack me (patient explanation), can you think about that for a moment You seem to think that I don’t like you and yet I am not sure what makes you think that. You seem to think that I don’t like you and yet I am not sure what makes you think that. Just as you distrusted everyone around you because you couldn’t predict how they would respond, you now are suspicious of me Just as you distrusted everyone around you because you couldn’t predict how they would respond, you now are suspicious of me You have to see me as critical so that you can feel vindicated in your dismissal of what I say You have to see me as critical so that you can feel vindicated in your dismissal of what I say

11 Therapist Stance Mentalization Using questioning comments to promote exploration What do you make of what has happened? What do you make of what has happened? Why do you think that he said that? Why do you think that he said that? I wonder if that was related to the group yesterday? I wonder if that was related to the group yesterday? Perhaps you felt that I was judging you? Perhaps you felt that I was judging you? What do you make of her suicidal feeling (in the group)? What do you make of her suicidal feeling (in the group)? Why do you think that he behaved towards you as he did? Why do you think that he behaved towards you as he did?

12 Therapist Stance Affective experience and its representation Focus the patient’ attention on therapist experience when it offers an opportunity to clarify misunderstandings and to develop prototypical representations Focus the patient’ attention on therapist experience when it offers an opportunity to clarify misunderstandings and to develop prototypical representations Highlight patient’s experience to therapist Highlight patient’s experience to therapist Use transference to emphasise different experience and perspective Use transference to emphasise different experience and perspective Negotiate negative reactions and ruptures in therapeutic alliance by identifying patient and therapist roles in the problem Negotiate negative reactions and ruptures in therapeutic alliance by identifying patient and therapist roles in the problem

13 Clinical Example Suicide Attempt and Self Harm Intervention should be simple and short, affect focused, refer to current context and address conscious or near-conscious contact. The pathway for intervention moves from affect identification to interpersonal context to meaning. The therapist should not assume responsibility for the patients actions and a comment early in treatment defining the extent of his responsibility is necessary. (e.g.) “I can’t stop you harming yourself or even killing yourself, but I might be able to help you understand what makes you try to do it and to find other ways of managing things”. The primary purpose of self harm and other actions is to maintain self structure following sudden de-stabilization.

14 Function of self-harm To maintain the self-structure Explore reasons for de-stabilization of self-structure Explore reasons for de-stabilization of self-structure ‘Tell me when you first began to feel anxious that you might do something?’ ‘Tell me when you first began to feel anxious that you might do something?’ Make a systematic attempt to place responsibility for actions back with the patient to re-establish self-control Make a systematic attempt to place responsibility for actions back with the patient to re-establish self-control ‘I can’t stop you harming yourself or even killing yourself but I might be able to help you understand what makes you do it and to find other ways of managing things’. ‘I can’t stop you harming yourself or even killing yourself but I might be able to help you understand what makes you do it and to find other ways of managing things’.

15 Motivation of self-harm Re-stabilize Re-stabilize Predictable, mentalizable schematic relationships Predictable, mentalizable schematic relationships Rigid understandable motivations – ‘He didn’t turn up because he wanted me to suffer’. Rigid understandable motivations – ‘He didn’t turn up because he wanted me to suffer’. Formulaic explanations – ‘He deserves to suffer because he is bad’. Formulaic explanations – ‘He deserves to suffer because he is bad’. I won’t come because they don’t want me there’. Reduce panic Reduce panic Establish existence Establish existence Support for body existence through seeing blood Support for body existence through seeing blood When mental existence is in doubt reinforce existence through your body When mental existence is in doubt reinforce existence through your body Emptiness becomes partially filled Emptiness becomes partially filled Rarely to control/attack other Rarely to control/attack other

16 Pathway and interventions for self-harm Empathy and support Empathy and support Define interpersonal context Define interpersonal context Detailed account of days or hours leading up to self-harm with emphasis on feeling states Detailed account of days or hours leading up to self-harm with emphasis on feeling states Moment to moment exploration of actual episode Moment to moment exploration of actual episode Explore communication problems Explore communication problems Identify misunderstandings or over-sensitivity Identify misunderstandings or over-sensitivity Identify affect Identify affect Explore the affective changes since the previous individual session linking them with events within treatment Explore the affective changes since the previous individual session linking them with events within treatment Review any acts thoroughly in a number of contexts including individual and group therapy Review any acts thoroughly in a number of contexts including individual and group therapy

17 Interventions for self-harm DO Explore conscious motive Explore conscious motive How do you understand what happened? How do you understand what happened? Who was there at the time or who were you thinking about? Who was there at the time or who were you thinking about? What did you make of what they said? What did you make of what they said? Challenge the perspective that the patient presents Challenge the perspective that the patient presents DO NOT Mentalize the transference in the immediacy of a suicide attempt or self-harm Mentalize the transference in the immediacy of a suicide attempt or self-harm Interpret the patient’s actions in terms of their personal history, the unconscious motivations or their current possible manipulative intent in the ‘heat’ of the moment. It will alienate the patient. Interpret the patient’s actions in terms of their personal history, the unconscious motivations or their current possible manipulative intent in the ‘heat’ of the moment. It will alienate the patient.

18 Stop and Stand – Dealing with an Impasse During a typical non-mentalizing interaction in a group or individual session. Stop and investigate Stop and investigate Let the interaction slowly unfold- control it Let the interaction slowly unfold- control it Highlight who feels what Highlight who feels what Identify how each aspect is understood from multiple perspectives Identify how each aspect is understood from multiple perspectives Challenge reactive ‘fillers’ Challenge reactive ‘fillers’ Identify how messages feel and are understood, what reactions occur Identify how messages feel and are understood, what reactions occur

19 Stop, listen, look - questions What do you think it feels like for X? What do you think it feels like for X? Can you explain why he did that? Can you explain why he did that? Can you think of other ways you might be able to help her really understand what you feel like? Can you think of other ways you might be able to help her really understand what you feel like? How do you explain her distress/overdose? How do you explain her distress/overdose? If someone else was in that position what would you tell them to do? If someone else was in that position what would you tell them to do? Recruit – Gemma is obviously angry. Can anyone help her with this, because I wonder if beneath it she is beginning to feel ignored. Recruit – Gemma is obviously angry. Can anyone help her with this, because I wonder if beneath it she is beginning to feel ignored.

20 Stop,rewind,explore Let’s go back and see what happened just then. Let’s go back and see what happened just then. At first you seemed to understand what was going on but then… At first you seemed to understand what was going on but then… Let’s try to trace exactly how that came about. Let’s try to trace exactly how that came about. Hang on, before we move off, let’s just rewind and see if we can understand something in all this. Hang on, before we move off, let’s just rewind and see if we can understand something in all this.


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