UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


More information for offenders

What is MBT?

MBT is a psychological treatment that is based on the idea that we all want to be understood. “Mentalization” is how we understand other people by having an idea of what they are thinking and feeling, and the reasons for their behaviour.

What is the research study?

The research team at University College London are evaluating the effectiveness of MBT. This means that you are currently only able to access MBT if you sign up to the research study. If you or your Offender Manager thinks that you are suitable for MBT, they will meet with you to discuss in detail what the research study involves. Because we are evaluating the effectiveness of MBT, there is a 50% chance that you would be allocated to MBT but a 50% chance that you would be allocated to the control group. If you are in the control group, it means that you will not receive MBT, but are able to access any services provided in probation, which we call “probation as usual”.

What happens if I am allocated to the MBT group?

For MBT, you would attend weekly group and monthly individual sessions over the course of a year, as well as seeing your Offender Manager, as normal. In individual sessions, you would meet with one MBT therapist. In the group, there will be two MBT therapists and up to seven other group members. The group is a safe space for members to discover each other’s’ thoughts and feelings, and the reasons why everyone responds to various situations in the way that they do. This is done by group members hearing from each other and learning about how they think and feel. Everyone is there to teach others about how they see things and to learn from others about how they see things.

What happens if I am allocated to the control group?

If you are allocated to the control group, you will meet with your Offender Manager as usual, and may be referred to other services to support you.



What happens after I get allocated to MBT or the control group?

A member of the research team will meet with you every few months to complete some questionnaires. The questionnaires will take less than an hour. You will be free to take a break at any time while completing the questionnaires. There are no right or wrong answers, we are just interested in the way that you think.

The questions will be in a “tick the box” format on topics such as:

  • Your health and how you are feeling
  • Your offending history and behaviour
  • Your beliefs and attitudes

All the information you tell us will be kept private. Records are stored and locked securely at University College London.

Nothing you say will be told to anyone outside the research team, except in three circumstances:

  • We would have to tell the police or another relevant agency if we were told that someone was sincerely planning to seriously harm a specific person.
  • If you were directly at risk of serious harm.
  • In the event of a serious criminal disclosure where a court were to demand participant case records, these would have to be made available on demand for legal authorities.

No one has looked at this type of treatment before to see whether it is useful to help adults to better manage their aggressive behaviour. We would like you to help us by being one of the very first people to be involved in this project. 

Regardless of which group you are allocated to, you will receive suitable help and support.