About Us

The Mentalizing Initiative is the first mentalizing program established on the West Coast.

It initially evolved at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2012 to address a commonly found gap in training related to personality disorders for residents. Originally called the Borderline Personality Disorder Initiative, the program annually trained five resident physicians in Mentalization Based Therapy, while administering an eighteen month program for BPD Patients. In conjunction with the Anna Freud Centre, the program also hosted ten short-term intensive training programs for practitioners in a conference setting. Since its inception, this original program has trained over 750 practitioners in Mentalization Based Therapy across the world.

Over time as trainees from the program began to establish practices in the community

A core group of clinicians devoted to promoting implementation of mentalizing treatments on the West Coast developed. Recognizing a similar gap in current knowledge and effective treatments related to personality disorders existed in the community, the Mentalizing Initiative, a 501(c)3 non-profit was established in 2018. Mentalizing was originally designed to target personality disorders, but has subsequently been shown to also be effective in a variety of patient populations such as eating disorders, families, at-risk youth, and trauma victims. As an independent entity, the program recruits funding for free training for practitioners who work in underserved or high risk populations, such as veterans, community mental health clinics, and inner-city schools. It is the goal of the Mentalizing Initiative to provide accessible training to improve patient outcomes in a community that continues to lack access to effective care.

Our Mission

To provide education and training of evidence-based treatments that have been shown to raise the capacity for mentalization

The Mentalizing Initiative (MI) and its current team originally developed from a training clinic at UCLA. Since 2006, we’ve provided basic and advanced training to hundreds of practitioners. In 2018, we established the Mentalizing Initiative as a non-profit 501(c3) to further our training mission.



To expand availability to informed quality care, and thereby increase the number of patients served


To expand access to training in Mentalization Based Treatment and other evidence-based treatments known to increase the capacity for mentalizing


To improve patient outcome and decrease the utilization of high-cost tertiary care

Mentalizing is the ability to make sense of our actions and feelings and those of others. It is the foundation of our ability to regulate emotions and impulses, and to understand our minds and others. In essence, it is our ability to hold mind in mind; the heart of emotional intelligence; and the key to interpersonal relationships.

Mentalizing helps us to:

  • Have a more accurate understanding of what is taking place between people
  • Understand ourselves, who we are, our preferences, our own values, etc
  • Communicate well with our family and close friends
  • Regulate our own feelings
  • Regulate other people’s feelings
  • Avoid misunderstandings
  • See the connection between emotions and actions more easily, which will help us to escape destructive patterns of thoughts and feelings.
MBT aims to improve a person’s ability to mentalize in close relationships.

Having improved mentalizing ability means:

  • Experiencing a more stable sense of who you feel you are
  • Being less likely to let emotions get the better of you
  • When emotions do get the better of you, you are able to regain your composure more quickly.

    This should mean that you become stronger emotionally, engage in harmful behaviours less, are less likely to get into interpersonal conflicts, and are better able to deal with any conflicts that do arise.

Fonagy, Bateman, and colleagues have done extensive outcome research on MBT for borderline personality disorder.

The first randomized, controlled trial was published in 1999, concerning MBT delivered in a partial hospital setting. The results showed real-world clinical effectiveness that compared favorably with existing treatments for BPD.A follow-up study published in 2003 demonstrated that MBT is cost-effective. Encouraging results were also found in an 18-month study, in which subjects were randomly assigned to an outpatient MBT treatment condition versus a structured clinical management (SCM) treatment. The lasting efficacy of MBT was demonstrated in an 8-year follow-up of patients from the original trial, comparing MBT versus treatment as usual. In that research, patients who had received MBT had less medication use, fewer hospitalizations and longer periods of employment compared to patients who received standard care. Replication studies have been published by other European investigators. Researchers have also demonstrated the effectiveness of MBT for adolescents as well as that of a group-only format of MBT.

  1. Bateman, A.W., Fonagy, P. (2009). “Randomized Controlled Trial of Outpatient Mentalization-Based Treatment Versus Structured Clinical Management for Borderline Personality Disorder”. Am J Psychiatry. 166 (12): 1355-1364. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2009.09040539. PMID 19833787.
  2. Bateman, A.W., Fonagy, P. (2008). “8-Year Follow-Up of Patients Treated for Borderline Personality Disorder: Mentalization-Based Treatment Versus Treatment as Usual”. Am J Psychiatry. 165 (5): 631–638.doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2007.07040636. PMID 18347003.
  3. Bateman, A.W., Fonagy, P. (2001). “Treatment of borderline personality disorder with psychoanalytically oriented partial hospitalization: an 18-month follow-up”. Am J Psychiatry. 158 (11): 1932–3.doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.158.1.36. PMID 11136631.
  4. Bateman, A.W., Fonagy, P. (2001). “Effectiveness of partial hospitalization in the treatment of borderline personality disorder: a randomized controlled trial”. Am J Psychiatry. 156 (10): 1563–9.doi:10.1176/ajp.156.10.1563. PMID 10518167.

Ready to help?

The Mentalizing Initiative provides training for mental health clinicians that work with veterans, low-income communities, and other community mental health programs. You can help support us by donating or volunteering to assist in our programs.
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