Eating disorders specialists from many different parts of the UK joined Newbridge House staff for a successful and stimulating international study day.

Training was delivered by Norwegians Professor Finn Skårderud and Bente Sommerfeldt who explained mentalisation based treatment (MBT) and its role within eating disorders services.

Often described as seeing yourself from the outside and others from the inside, the trainers introduced the concept of mentalisation as a key social competence which helps us to establish our identity.

People with eating disorders have poor mentalising skills, with an over-emphasis on bodily aspects, the audience heard. For example, a young person with anorexia may only be able to answer a question about how she feels after weighing herself.

Prof Skårderud and Dr Sommerfeldt spoke about how working on an eating disorders unit can also challenge practitioners themselves intellectually and emotionally. This effect, if not recognised and addressed, can impact on practitioner’s own mentalising skills and in turn impact upon the efficacy of treatment.

The trainers, who are both current practitioners with vast experience, drew on many examples of scenarios they have faced and how MBT can help to address those challenges. The audience was urged to see MBT as a valuable tool within the therapeutic programme as a whole, not a ‘stand alone’ therapy.

There was the opportunity for participants to reflect on scenarios they have faced where mentalisation skills have been compromised. People spoke of the challenges faced in both community and inpatient unit, such as managing risk and facilitating meal times.

Professor Hubert Lacey, introducing the day’s training said: “I am delighted to see our Newbridge House staff, together with our colleagues from many different parts of the UK, here today for a day of training and reflection.

“This is the first of a series of training days we will be running over the coming months. We are really keen to offer high quality training opportunities and to bring together Newbridge staff with our valued community colleagues.”

The next training event will be focused on nursing people with eating disorders, led by renowned national figures within the field. This will be followed by a training day on men, boys and eating disorders delivered by a senior UK expert. More details to follow shortly, but if you are a professional working in eating disorders and would like to know more or register an interest in these events, contact us.