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What is Mentalization?

Mentalization is the ability to understand the mental states, of oneself or others, that underlie overt behaviour. Mentalization can be seen as a form of imaginative mental activity that allows us to perceive and interpret human behaviour in terms of intentional mental states (e.g., needs, desires, feelings, beliefs, goals, purposes, and reasons). It is sometimes described as “understanding misunderstandings”. Mentalization can occur either automatically or consciously. Mentalization ability, or mentalizing, is weakened by intense emotions.

Why Focus on MBT?

The capacity to mentalize, also known as reflective functioning is a source of psychosocial and emotional protection. Developmentally, the acquisition, practice and improvement of mentalization depends of the quality of the relationships in someone’s early life but it is also influenced by later relationships in childhood and adult life. All psychotherapies from Cognitive Behavioral to Psychodynamic, have as their central aim the enhancement of mentalization. Children and Adults who display good levels of reflective functioning are better at managing and regulating their emotions and behaviors. Furthermore, when reflective functioning improves so do the overall capacity to relate to others in a more effective and satisfying manner.

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