1st Edition

Mentalizing in Psychotherapy A Guide for Practitioners

By Carla Sharp, Dickon Bevington Copyright 2022

    How can therapists help clients reflect more deeply on their own--and other people's--thoughts and emotions? How can the therapeutic relationship be leveraged effectively to create change? This concise book guides therapists of any orientation to incorporate innovative mentalization-based strategies into assessment and intervention. Complex ideas are clearly explained and illustrated with extensive session transcripts and vignettes. Ways to help clients struggling with dysregulated emotions and behavior are highlighted. Compelling topics include the role of mentalization difficulties in personality disorders, special concerns in working with adolescents, and how clinicians can improve their own mentalizing capacities.

    1. Setting the Stage for Mentalizing
    2. What Is Mentalizing?
    3. How Does Mentalizing Develop?
    4. Difficulties in Mentalizing…and Difficulties in Learning
    5. Mentalizing Assessment and Formulation
    6. MBT Structure
    7. The Mentalizing Stance
    8. Mentalizing Interventions
    9. Going Further with the Mentalizing Stance
    Key Terms and Concepts


    Carla Sharp, PhD, is Professor in the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program and Associate Dean for Faculty and Research at the University of Houston, where she is also Director of the Adolescent Diagnosis Assessment Prevention and Treatment (ADAPT) Center and the Developmental Psychopathology Lab. Dr. Sharp holds adjunct positions at University College London in the United Kingdom and the University of the Free State in South Africa. Her work has significantly advanced scientific understanding of personality pathology in youth. She is a recipient of the Mid-Career Investigator Award from the North American Society for the Study of Personality Disorders and the Award for Achievement in the Field of Severe Personality Disorders from the Borderline Personality Disorder Resource Center. She is President of the International Society for the Study of Personality Disorders and Associate Editor of the American Psychological Association journal Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment. Dr. Sharp has published over 280 peer-reviewed publications, chapters, and books.

    Dickon Bevington, MA, MBBS, MRCPsych, is a consultant in child and adolescent psychiatry, Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust, and Medical Director of the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, London, United Kingdom. His clinical work is with high-risk and highly complex young people with substance use disorders. At the Anna Freud Centre, alongside his Medical Director role, Dr. Bevington is a developer of and trainer in mentalization-based approaches, in particular co-leading the development of Adaptive Mentalization-Based Integrative Treatment (AMBIT), an award-winning approach used by teams across the world. He was listed as one of the "Top 50 Innovators in Health" by the Health Service Journal in 2014. Dr. Bevington has published on and teaches AMBIT internationally. His research interests include youth substance use disorders, implementation science, and pragmatic approaches to whole-systems change. He is a past Fellow of the Cambridge Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care.

    "Undoubtedly the most clearly written and most easily accessible depiction of MBT that is available to date….This book could, just could, be a game changer. I very much hope that its lively style, its compassionate language, and its genuine human interest provide the foundations on which a new generation of psychologically informed, trauma-sensitive, humane, generous, and competent practitioners will emerge."--from the Foreword by Peter Fonagy, OBE, FMedSci, FBA, FAcSS, Head, Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London, United Kingdom; Chief Executive, Anna Freud Centre

    "This essential book is written by leaders in the scientific investigation and real-world implementation of mentalization-based treatment. In an encouraging, down-to-earth style, the authors render mentalizing accessible and use clinical vignettes to illustrate common pitfalls and effective interventions. The book is well contextualized in the current atmosphere of change toward dimensional understandings of mental illness. It offers needed, practical guidance about how to reach clients who feel chronically alienated and misunderstood."--Lois W. Choi-Kain, MD, MEd, Director, Gunderson Personality Disorders Institute, McLean Hospital; Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

    "This volume offers a clear, accessible approach to mentalization, the capacity infusing our humanity and social world. With so many children and adults needing but unable to access mental health care, the authors make a compelling social justice plea--mental health professionals from multiple disciplines should learn the basic principles of mentalization-informed clinical care to make this efficacious, often life-changing treatment more widely available."--Linda Mayes, MD, Arnold Gesell Professor of Child Psychiatry, Pediatrics, and Psychology and Director, Yale Child Study Center

    "Are you a clinician who keeps wondering what mentalizing is and whether you are ‘doing it’ with your patients but are never sure? If so, then, expert or novice, this is the book for you. In everyday language, the authors explain the concept of mentalizing, how it develops, and how to change your clinical practice to enhance mentalizing in your clients and yourself. The authors use research findings to underpin recommendations for clinical practice and provide simple take-home messages for effective mentalizing treatment in the consulting room. Abundant clinical examples and a carefully constructed dictionary of key terms and concepts help transform academic discourse into clinical reality."--Anthony W. Bateman, MA, FRCPsych, Visiting Professor, University College London, United Kingdom, and Copenhagen University, Denmark-