Mentalization, or mentalizing, lies at the very core of our humanity. It refers to the spontaneous sense we have of ourselves and others as persons whose actions are based on mental states: desires, needs, feelings, reasons, and beliefs. Mentalizing is crucial to our well-being in several respects: It implicitly and explicitly is the basis of self-awareness and a sense of identity; it is the basis of meaningful, sustaining relationships; and it is the key to self-regulation and self-direction.
Mentalization-based Treatment (MBT) was initially developed for the treatment of borderline personality disorder by Peter Fonagy and Anthony Bateman at the Anna Freud Center in London. It is grounded in the seminal work of John Bowlby’s Attachment Theory, Psychoanalytic theory, and ecological systems theory. Fonagy’s and others’ research has expanded its application to a wide range of problems, including marital conflict, depression, trauma, eating disorders, oppositional defiant disorder, personality disorders, and others. This discussion will focus on the foundational concepts of MBT, as well as its application to couples, family, adolescent, group, and individual treatment.
Starr Kelton-Locke, PhD, PsyD, is a clinical psychologist, marriage and family therapist, and psychoanalyst who has been in practice in Marin for 25 years. She specializes in the treatment of adults, families, and adolescents. Her clinical and writing interests focus on the neural systems involved in human emotions, the interface of the psyche-soma, depression, and eating disorders. She trained in Mentalization with its founders, Fonagy and Bateman, and UCLA’s Semel Institute.
Networking: Evening Program meetings include informal networking, announcements and refreshments for the first 20-30 minutes.