ITSIEY Module 5: Mentalizing in Practice; Working with Parents and Babies

11th September 2017 12th September 2017


Anna Freud National Centre for Children & Families Map
2 days
09:30 - 16:30




Places available

About this course

This module aims to enhance clinical practice by drawing on psychoanalytic and mentalization research and clinical work to encourage reflectiveness.

The module considers ideas and skills to increase reflectiveness in self and other - the practitioner, the team and workplace, and parents of babies.

Seminar 1: Mentalization: a very practical theory – key concepts.

The theory of mentalization will be described, including its attachment and neurodevelopmental origins, and why this theory matters.  The talk will include an overview of the ways in which this eminently practical theory has been used in a wide variety of therapeutic settings, including explanation of the basic “mentalizing stance”, with a chance to practice this in playful, low-exposure exercises.

Seminar 2: Putting Mentalization to work: practical applications with practitioners and the networks they operate within.

While direct therapeutic applications of mentalizing are explored in other seminars, this session gives an opportunity to explore how mentalizing has stimulated new approaches to the ways that supervision and practitioner peer support can be conceptualised and applied.  In addition we shall explore how it can help in the difficult task of making sense of, navigating, and strengthening the multi-agency networks that frequently surround vulnerable clients.  These complicated collections of different agencies, professions, and priorities may – usually out of the best of intentions – give rise to unintended complications, or “dis-integrated” working, and this is despite decades of reports advising (or demanding) the ideal of “integrated practice”. The seminar will contain some practical exercises as well as didactic content.

Seminar 3: Increasing mentalizing in the parent/infant and parent/child relationship.  

This seminar will cover the following topics:

Developmental context of Mentalization – we will look at why parental mentalization is important for child development.

Reflective Functioning and the link to Attachment – using an attachment theory frame as a way of understanding what’s going on in the infant/child’s mind.  In relation to this we will look at the importance of marked mirroring and think about clinical work with parents who can reflect/those who can’t drawing on clinical examples

There will be an outline of some tools and techniques that can be used in the clinical work with parents to help clinicians focuses on the parental skills (mentalizing their infant’s experience, sensitivity, mirroring, attunement)  important for enhancing reflective functioning.  The focus of the seminar will be helping parents to mentalize their baby by thinking about not only the parent’s perspective, but also looking at the relationship from the infant’s perspective.

The seminar will also look at how to help parents to reflect on the self and ask the question:  what do you bring to the parent-infant relationship and where does this come from?  The Parent Map tool (Cooper and Redfern 2016) will be outlined as a way of applying this in the clinical work.

Who is this training suitable for?

ITSIEY is suitable for allied mental health professionals working in the field of infant mental health e.g. nurses, therapists, psychologists, family therapist and psychiatrists. If you have any specific questions about the suitability of the module for your practice, please email

About International Training School for Infancy and Early Years (ITSIEY)

The  Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families (UK), the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust (UK) and Yale University Child Study Centre (USA) have formed a unique collaboration in establishing the International Training School in Infancy and Early Years (ITSIEY). ITSIEY opened its doors to students in January 2012 and take up from students across a range of disciplines has been good. The modules are running in the UK (London) and USA (New Haven) sites.

Itsiey offers 4 modules in 2017:

Module 1: An introduction to perinatal and infant mental health

Module 2: The Developing Infant, the Couple and the Family: Understanding Relationships within a Social and Cultural Context

Module 3: Assessing and Formulating Risk and Resilience in Perinatal and Infant Mental Health

Module 5: Mentalizing in Practice; Working with Parents and Babies

Special Offer

a 5% discount is available for students who book on more than one ITSIEY module.