PhD Defence: Emma Beck

Emma Beck defends her PhD Thesis:

"Mentalization-Based Treatment in Groups for Adolscents with Borderline Personally Disorder:  A Randomised Controlled Trial”.

Time and place:

Tuesday 4 February 2020 at 14:00.

Store Auditorium, Sjællands Universitetshospital, Sygehusvej 10, 4000 Roskilde.

Please note that the defence will start precisely at the announced time.

Assessment Committee:

  • Associate Professor, Birgit Bork Mathiesen, (chairperson), Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • Associate Professor, Patrick Luyten, University of Leuven. 
  • Professor, Lars Mehlum, University of Oslo, Norway.


The principal aim of the PhD thesis was to examine the effect of mentalization-based treatment in groups (MBT-G) for adolescents with borderline personality disorder (BPD) in a randomized controlled trial. 112 adolescents (111 females) with BPD were randomized to a one year of MBT-G or treatment as usual. Outcome assessments included borderline symptoms (primary outcome), self-harm, depression, caregiver reports and social functioning. The results on both primary and secondary outcomes indicate that group-based MBT is non-superior to standard clinical care in the treatment of adolescents with BPD. 29% in both groups remitted. 29% of the MBT group completed less than half of the sessions compared to 7% of the control group. The low remission rate points to the importance of continued research into early intervention. Specifically, retention problems need to be addressed.

A secondary aim was to test the hypothesis that mentalizing capacity would mediate the relationship between attachment to parents and to peers, respectively, and borderline features. 110 females who participated in the main study completed self-report measures at baseline. We found that in a simple mediational model, mentalizing capacity mediated the relation between attachment to peers and borderline features. In the case of attachment to parents, the mediational model was not significant. A clinical implication of this study for the treatment of adolescent BPD may be the possible benefits of targeting mentalizing specifically in the context of peer relationships.

Prior to the defence, copies of the dissertation are available at the Library of Faculty of Social Sciences, Gothersgade 140, Copenhagen K.