Mentalizing in Clinical Practice

Mentalizing in Clinical Practice

by Jon G. Allen
     
 

Mentalizing, the fundamental human capacity to understand behavior in relation to mental states such as thoughts and feelings, is the basis of healthy relationships and self-awareness. A growing evidence base supports the effectiveness of mentalizing-focused interventions in the treatment of borderline personality disorder. This volume explores wider applications,

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Overview

Mentalizing, the fundamental human capacity to understand behavior in relation to mental states such as thoughts and feelings, is the basis of healthy relationships and self-awareness. A growing evidence base supports the effectiveness of mentalizing-focused interventions in the treatment of borderline personality disorder. This volume explores wider applications, construing mentalizing as a core common factor in the effectiveness of psychotherapeutic interventions that cuts across treatment modalities and theoretical approaches ranging from psychodynamic to interpersonal and cognitive therapies.

This book distills the burgeoning literature on mentalizing for clinicians of diverse professional backgrounds. The book is divided into two parts: Understanding Mentalizing fully explicates the concept of mentalizing and its foundations in developmental research and social-cognitive neuroscience; Practicing Mentalizing presents the general principles of psychotherapeutic interventions that promote mentalizing as well as a range of current clinical applications. • Mentalizing is multifaceted -- for example, pertaining to self and others as well as explicit and implicit processes -- and links to myriad overlapping concepts including empathy, metacognition, theory of mind, mindfulness, and psychological mindedness.• Two sides of research on the development of mentalizing in attachment relationships have significant clinical implications: interactions in secure attachment relationships enhance mentalizing and illuminate the conditions of optimal psychotherapeutic relationships; conversely, trauma in attachment relationships undermines the development of mentalizing and eventuates in developmental psychopathology that poses special challenges for psychotherapy.• Neuroimaging is illuminating diverse brain regions that contribute to mentalizing capacity, including a "mentalizing region" in the medial prefrontal cortex that is consistently activated in mentalizing tasks; concomitantly, research on autism and psychopathy attests to the neurobiological basis of psychopathologies in which stable impairments of mentalizing are most conspicuous.• In development and in psychotherapy, mentalizing begets mentalizing, as exemplified by a mentalizing stance that fosters inquisitiveness and curiosity about mental states in oneself and others; basic principles and clinical examples, including the use of transference, demonstrate the spirit and technique of mentalizing, capped off by a patient's first-hand account of mentalization-based treatment for borderline personality disorder.• Attachment trauma is the wellspring of disrupted mentalizing capacity, and a focus on mentalizing provides an integrative framework for psychodynamic and cognitive-behavioral treatment of trauma as well as for parenting, family, and social-systems interventions directed toward interrupting the perpetuation of trauma in relationships.• Psychoeducational interventions, including patient education and structured exercises, are employed to cultivate a therapeutic alliance around mentalizing; the book includes a straightforward explanation clinicians can use with patients, "What is Mentalizing and Why Do It?"

In the chapter on mentalizing interventions, the authors propose to clinicians, "You are already doing it." If the effectiveness of treatment depends on therapists mentalizing and helping their patients do so more consistently and skillfully, clinicians of all persuasions can benefit from the extensive knowledge now available to hone further their attention to this vital therapeutic process.

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Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Patricia E. Murphy, PhD (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: This book provides theoretical perspectives on mentalizing, defined by the authors as attending to mental states in the self and others. It includes illustrations of this skill in the clinical practice of psychotherapy for various issues.
Purpose: The authors hope to educate about and break down possible resistance to the notion of mentalizing with a goal of enhancing skills of practitioners and their clients.
Audience: Readers who are familiar with the practice and theory of psychotherapy will find themselves readily agreeing with the content of this book and will appreciate its perspective. Trainees with some experience would benefit from this skillfully presented information.
Features: The authors lead readers through familiar concepts like attachment theory and an appreciation of how the ability to develop a perspective on affective responses forms in both client and clinician. This is complemented with a neurobiological evidence of different types of thought processes. Clear tables summarize material to make this brilliant synthesis from several areas seem obvious. Clinical applications make the consequences of the theory evident.
Assessment: The authors are superb teachers. It is refreshing to read this book that can heighten awareness of nuances in listening to and helping clients grow in recognizing and adapting the formulations of experience that shape their emotional responses.
PsycCRITIQUES

This is an excellent book: well written, theoretically sophisticated but practical, clear, and provocative in its implications for reframing and enhancing treatment for a broad spectrum of disorders.This book is especially useful for those interested in the leading edge in psychotherapy integration; the common-factors approach to understanding psychotherapeutic effectiveness; and the integration of mind, brain, and interpersonal relations. I highly recommend it.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781585628360
Publisher:
American Psychiatric Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date:
05/09/2008
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
433
File size:
5 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Jon G. Allen, Ph.D., is the Helen Malsin Palley Chair in Mental Health Research; Professor of Psychiatry in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Baylor College of Medicine; and Senior Staff Psychologist in The Menninger Clinic, Houston, Texas.

Peter Fonagy, Ph.D., F.B.A., is Freud Memorial Professor of Psychoanalysis and Director of the Sub-Department of Clinical Health Psychology at University College London; Chief Executive of the Anna Freud Centre, London; and Consultant to the Child and Family Program at the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Baylor College of Medicine.

Anthony W. Bateman, M.D., F.R.C.Psych., is Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy, Halliwick Unit, St. Ann's Hospital, Barnet, Enfield, and Haringey Mental Health Trust; Visiting Professor, University College London; and Visiting Consultant, The Menninger Clinic and the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Baylor College of Medicine.

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