Wandsworth Complex Needs Service

  • Wandsworth Complex Needs Service is an outpatient service for people who have complex needs, many of whom have received a diagnosis of emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD), formerly known as borderline personality disorder (BPD).

    The service provides intensive 18-month programmes of a specialised therapy called mentalisation based therapy (MBT). 

  • Service Type: Adults
  • Service Contact: wandscnsstaff@swlstg.nhs.uk
  • Service Category: Community
  • Disabled access: yes
  • Address: Trinity Building Springfield Hospital 15 Springfield Drive, London, SW17 0YF
  • Reception hours: 9am - 5pm Monday to Friday
  • Reception phone number: 0203 513 5000

About our care

This service specialises in providing mentalisation based therapy (MBT) for adults experiencing emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD), formerly known as borderline personality disorder (BPD).

A limited number of place are available for time-limited individual psychotherapy, cognitive analytic therapy (CAT), group analytic therapy, and individual art therapy. 

What is Mentalising?

Temporary lapses in mentalising happen to all of us at times of stress. Problems in mentalising can also be seen as a symptom across different mental health issues. Long-term problems in lapsed mentalising are the main underlying problem leading to difficulties seen in EUPD/BPD, a common mental health problem. MBT is therefore used as a psychological therapy to help people to manage or reduce the symptoms of borderline personality disorder.

Mentalising is to do with how our mind works.

  • It is how we understand what we feel and think, and why we are behaving as we are.
  • It is how we guess how others feel and thinks and why they are behaving as they are.
  • It is how we put these two things together to fully experience and understand our relationships and interactions with others.

In order to have good personal and social relationships with others, it is essential that we understand each other, and ourselves, reasonably accurately. What is going on in our mind to make us feel as we do? What is going on in the other person’s mind to make them behave like that?

Mentalising is a skill that we all have, and some of us are better ‘mentalisers’ than others. However, mentalising is often compromised under extreme stress. This means that we might lose the ability to reflect on our own behaviours or those of others, and to make sense of thoughts and feelings.

What is mentalisation-based therapy (MBT)?

MBT is a type of psychological therapy that aims to improve a person’s ability to mentalise in close relationships. Having improved mentalising ability means:

  • Experiencing a more stable sense of who 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 quicker
  • Make better sense of other people

This should mean that you become clearer on your emotions and needs and how to express these, you engage less in harmful behaviours, you are less likely to get into interpersonal conflicts, and you are better able to deal with any conflicts that do arise.

How Does MBT Work in Practice?

To be good at something, you need to practise it. In the MBT programme, participants have the opportunity to learn about and practise mentalizing skills together with the therapist and with other group members.

MBT is a structured programme of therapy that starts with an educational group for 12 weeks where you learn more about mentalization, attachment and personality disorder. This is then followed by 18 months of weekly therapy that takes place both as one-to-one and in a group. After weekly therapy ends, you have a number of review sessions with the therapist in order to make sure that the progress you achieved in therapy is maintained.

Who is this service for?

Wandsworth Complex Needs Services provides support to adults aged 18-65 in the borough of Wandsworth who have been diagnosed as experiencing emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD), fromerly known as borderline personality disorder (BPD). To be considered for Individual Psychotherapy, Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT), Group Analytic Therapy patients will struggle with complex emotional and relational needs.

Find more information about EUPD/BPD here.

Referrals and access

In a mental health emergency, call the Trust's Mental Health Crisis Line on 0800 028 8000.

Otherwise local GPs should be the first point of contact if struggling with mental health issues. GPs can provide referral to the Wandsworth Single Point of Access (SPA) team, who can in turn refer to the Wandsworth Complex Needs Service. 

Referrals are also possible for patients under the care of other local teams including Community Mental Health Teams (CMHTs), Wandsworth Talking Therapies, Home Treatment Teams (HTTs), Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), inpatient wards, and Liaison Psychistry teams.

We do not accept self-referrals so if you feel you would benefit from our service, please contact your GP or current mental health team who can discuss this with you and arrange a referral if required. Please email wandsworthcomplexneedsservicestaff@swlstg.nhs.uk if you have any questions.


Patient information

The team's therapists will work with patients referred to the serivce for assessment and engagement over a 12-week introductory course of mentalisation based therapy (MBT).

This progresses to a more intensive18-month course of twice-weekly therapy sessions consisting of an individual session and an MBT group therapy session. This also involve a 12-month step-down phase as part of preparing patients to return to care under their local GP. 

Those under the team's care can also choose for a friend or relative to attend the service's monthly evening family and friends group, which is co-facilitated by two MBT Therapists.