Following on from the introduction I wrote of MBT, I want to let you know a little more about how my therapy sessions work.
For most MBT treatments, there is a combination of both individual and group sessions. I have both of these over a period of 18 months.
Each week, I attend a 50 minute session with my individual therapist. We talk a lot about what is going on in my life now and how my behaviours and coping skills (or lack of) may have developed from past events. One thing I like about MBT is that it does not require you to delve too deeply into past events. It allows you to acknowledge the impact that they might have had and try to make sense of things through that. It is not about going over the past, it is about learning how it has shaped you.
I’ve had a lot of breakthroughs in my one to ones. I’ve discovered a lot about my reasoning behind how I act in relationships and how my family dynamics have had an impact on the people I like spending time with. We also discuss a lot about dynamics within the group setting. Relationships in therapy are so important because they often mirror experiences outside and are a safe place to work on any issues. I am in a position where I can tell my therapist if she pisses me off and we can figure out what the thoughts and feelings are behind that.
Group sessions also happen weekly with 2 therapists facilitating. As people get to know each other in the group, less therapist input is needed as we feel comfortable supporting and talking to one another. Group sessions are vital in MBT. Mentalisation has a focus of holding others in mind. A group setting allows different perspectives to be given on situations, perspectives which you otherwise might not have thought about. For example, I think that everyone hates me. The groups asks why I think this, who exactly, why the other person might be behaving in a way that gives me this feeling. We all help one another mentalise about things.
Then there’s also the warm feeling of knowing that you can speak about your darkest thoughts in front of a group and that nobody will judge you. In fact, someone will more than likely be able to relate to it. It is hugely comforting knowing that we are not alone, BPD can often feel very lonely.
The format of having individual and group sessions has been really good for me. Anything I am unable to share in a group, I still have space to share one to one. While group was initially terrifying for me, it has become something which I really appreciate. Nobody likes speaking in groups, particularly those who are self conscious and feel like everybody hates them. However, time helps. People start to open up and share parts of their world leading you to feel safe enough to share parts of yours. It sounds daunting and people often have an image of group therapy as a bunch of people sat around crying. This has never happened. We talk, there’s sometimes long silences, some sessions are more difficult than others. You will begin to feel safe and you will learn a lot about your relationships with people.
If you’re worried about starting therapy, that’s normal. But honestly, it can be life changing and it is almost never as bad as you think it will be.
Next up in this MBT series will be some tips on how to mentalise!