Objective: We examined whether mentalization-based treatment for adolescents (MBT-A) is more effective than treatment as usual (TAU) for adolescents who self-harm.
Method: A total of 80 adolescents (85% female) consecutively presenting to mental health services with self-harm and comorbid depression were randomly allocated to either MBT-A or TAU. Adolescents were assessed for self-harm, risk-taking and mood at baseline and at 3-monthly intervals until 12 months. Their attachment style, mentalization ability and borderline personality disorder (BPD) features were also assessed at baseline and at the end of the 12-month treatment.
Results: MBT-A was more effective than TAU in reducing self-harm and depression. This superiority was explained by improved mentalization and reduced attachment avoidance and reflected improvement in emergent BPD symptoms and traits.
Conclusions: MBT-A may be an effective intervention to reduce self-harm in adolescents.
Copyright © 2012 American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.