Mentalization-Based Treatment for Adolescents (MBT-A)

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Scientific Rating:
Promising Research Evidence
See scale of 1-5
Child Welfare System Relevance Level:
See descriptions of 3 levels

About This Program

The information in this program outline is provided by the program representative and edited by the CEBC staff. Mentalization-Based Treatment for Adolescents (MBT-A) has been rated by the CEBC in the area of: Depression Treatment (Child & Adolescent).

Target Population: Adolescents who present with self-harm

For children/adolescents ages: 12 – 17

Brief Description

MBT-A with self-harm provides weekly individual MBT therapy to the young person and monthly Mentalization-Based Treatment for Families (MBTF). Mentalization is the capacity to understand actions in terms of thoughts and feelings. Its enhancement is assumed to strengthen self-control in those with affect dysregulation and impulse control problems. The developers have suggested that self-harm in adolescents occurs in response to relationship stress, when the individual fails to represent the social experience in terms of mental states. When mentalizing is compromised, self-related negative cognitions are experienced with great intensity, leading to both intense depression and an urgent need for distraction. Furthermore, when non-mentalizing engenders social isolation, engaging in manipulative behavior and self-harm may aid reconnection. When mentalization of social experience fails, impulsive (poorly regulated) behaviors and subjective states triggering self-harm become prominent.

Program Goals:

The overall goals of Mentalization-Based Treatment for Adolescents (MBT-A) are:

  • Improvement in ability to mentalize which implies an ability for self- regulation
  • An ability for understanding action and thoughts from others as well as their own impact on others in a more realistic manner
  • Greater impulse control and less acting out behavior such as self-harm

Contact Information

Name: Dr. Trudie Rossouw, MBChB, FFPsych, MRCPsych MD (Res)
Agency/Affiliation: North East London NHS Foundation Trust
Phone: +004 430 0555 1156

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: March 2016

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: June 2015

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: July 2014