Wednesday, March 23, 2022

APA’s American Journal of Psychotherapy Publishes Edition Devoted to Mentalization-Based Therapy

The American Journal of Psychotherapy today published a special issue devoted to mentalization-based therapy, a form of psychotherapy that has proven highly effective, especially for personality disorders.

Originally developed 30 years ago by Anthony Bateman, M.A., and Peter Fonagy, Ph.D., for patients with borderline personality disorder, mentalization-based therapy combines elements of psychodynamic and cognitive-behavioral therapy to help patients with “mentalization”—the ability to observe their own emotions and those of other people and to appreciate how their behavior may affect others.

Guest edited by Lois W. Choi-Kain, M.D., M.Ed., director of the Gunderson Personality Disorders Institute at McLean Hospital, the special issue marks three decades of progress in the conceptual definition, scientific elaboration, and translation of mentalizing into clinical practice.

“Without adequate mentalizing, we are unable to contain our reactions to stress,” wrote Choi-Kain in an editorial in the issue. “Poor mentalizing is socially destructive. It impairs our ability to cope, communicate, and collaborate with others. As much as mentalizing can promote mental health and rewarding interactions, its instability can equally result in vulnerability for mental illness and social isolation. Herein lies the potential for psychotherapy to heal and revive psychological development. Psychotherapy can foster mentalization as a common mechanism of change and growth, across approaches and diagnoses.”

The issue includes articles by international experts in mentalization-based therapy. Bateman, who is the consultant psychiatrist and coordinator of mentalization-based therapy at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, wrote an article describing how mentalization can be used in group psychotherapy for patients with antisocial personality disorder. Fonagy, who is the CEO of Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families and head of the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences at University College of London, teamed with Roslyn Law, D. Clin. Psychol., also of the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families and colleagues to describe how mentalizing and interpersonal psychotherapy work together to promote problem-solving, recovery, and resilience.

Additionally, Choi-Kain wrote an article on how the components of mentalization-based therapy can be applied in the treatment of individuals with narcissistic personality disorder. Jana Volkert, Ph.D., a research fellow in the Department of Psychosocial Prevention at the University of Heidelberg, described how mentalization can be used in family therapy to reduce psychological risk and promote a more rewarding environment for both parents and children. Robert P. Drozek, L.I.C.S.W., and Brandon T. Unruh, M.D., both of McLean Hospital, present a clinical case illustration of how mentalization-based therapy works to reduce symptoms in a physician with borderline personality disorder.

This issue marks the 75th year of nearly continuous publication of the American Journal of Psychotherapy, wrote Editor Holly A. Swartz, M.D., in an editor’s note. “We plan to commemorate this landmark year in the journal’s history with special pieces, including reflections from previous editors in chief and a look back at our seminal articles,” she wrote. “Watch the website and upcoming issues for these exciting features. We hope you will join the American Journal of Psychotherapy community in celebrating 75 years of excellence in psychotherapy scholarship!”

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