This online course is spread across 3 days. 

This 3-day course aims to introduce Reflective Parenting; a model of parenting based on theoretical ideas from mentalization and attachment theory. Reflective Parenting is based on the principles of attachment theory, and the course will explain its link with the concept of reflective functioning and the positive outcomes for children’s emotional and behavioural functioning. The model of Reflective parenting makes distinct and explicit the need for self (parental) mentalizing and other (parent to infant, child or adolescent) mentalizing. Based on research (Suchman et al) showing that it is parental self-mentalizing that has the greater impact on the quality of parent-child interactions This course is intended for professionals working in primary and secondary care settings who want to identify difficulties in the parent-child relationship and intervene directly to improve the connection between parent and child. This work can be with parents with new infants, or with parents and children who are struggling to manage behavioural and/or emotional problems and where there are tensions in the parent-child relationship.  Equally, the model has been extended to work with parents struggling with difficult adolescents.


Participants attending the course will have listened to the theory of mentalizing podcasts and the course will focus on the practical application of Reflective Parenting in both a group setting and individually. Using a mix of teaching and interactive workshops, participants will be coached on helping parents to connect with their children in positive and meaningful ways and enhance their abilities to understand what goes on in their child’s mind. Dr. Redfern’s model of Reflective Parenting will be the focus and participants will learn how to use the tools which are easily accessible to parents: The Parent Map and the Parent APP. Professionals attending the course will learn how to use these tools with the families they work with. In addition, there will be a focus on how to run a Reflective Parenting Group, and participants wishing to pursue this will be encouraged to join a reflective parenting ‘community’ in which they will have the opportunity to bring this model to their service, add to a data set and receive supervision (charged by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families).

Who is this course suitable for

This course is suitable for anyone working in primary or secondary care, early years mental health workers, health visitors, children’s centre staff and other professionals who are interested in parent-child relationships in the early years and perinatal mental health workers. It is equally applicable to services just working with parents.

It would be of interest to centres wanting to train their whole staff group in an intervention aimed at increasing parental sensitivity and reflectiveness to improve parent-child relationships, particularly where there are difficulties in the attachment relationship. If you would be interested in commissioning a training locally, please email

This course will assume a working knowledge of the concept of mentalization. For those who have not previously completed an MBT training it is a requirement of this training must complete the "Mentalizing and Mentalization Based Treatments with Children, Young People and Families (MBT CYP) – An Introduction" before the training start date. You will be given access to this training one month before the training start date. Please note access to the training will be granted once full payment is received. The self-directed online An Introduction to Mentalization-Based Treatment for Children, Young People and Families training consists of a series of short videos that span four hours and cover the theory of mentalization and its relevance to work with children and young people, and so it is essential that you watch these prior to the training. If you do not complete these, you will not have the theoretical knowledge to get the most out of the training you are scheduled to attend. The content of the training will not be covered in the in-person training. If, for any reason, you require access to the training sooner than one month prior to the training start date, please let us know and we will be able to grant you access. Please note that training places must be paid for in order to be granted access to the training.


Course Content

The first part of the course will briefly recap on mentalizing and its origins in the attachment relationship. The course will comprise a manualized version of Reflective Parenting which is based around the principles of MBT and founded in attachment theory. This is an 8 week group programme, or can be delivered individually to parents. There will be a practical guide for professionals to work with parents and infants/children on and day 1 will focus on practicing techniques to connect with and validate parents’ positions (the professional, mentalizing stance, or Professional APP). Day 2 focuses on the child and the connection between parent and child.

Please note that this is a different course to Peter Fonagy & Anthony Bateman's Mentalization Based Therapy training and to the MBT-F training. There will be some overlap with the MBT-F training as it is of relevance to those working with, and caring for, children. However, it differs in its focus on the parent-child dyad and the focus is on Reflective Parenting more than MBT. In particular, participants will learn the importance of developing the parents’ capacity to self mentalize in order to increase the connection with the child. The Professional APP and Parent Map are the key tools to enable this process, leading to increased self regulation in parents and improved outcomes in children. Peter Fonagy & Anthony Bateman's MBT course focuses on the use of mentalizing ideas to work with adults, particularly those adults with BPD.


Aims of the course


  • To introduce the concept of Reflective Parenting, its link to reflective functioning and it’s application to working with parents and young children
  • To give an overview of the positive outcomes associated with high reflective functioning
  • To help professionals in primary and secondary care to understand the basic model of Mentalization and how to apply the principles to managing behavioural problems in young children, and to increasing the connection between parents and young children.
  • To provide practical tools to explain and practice Reflective Parenting (e.g. Parent APP and Parent Map) 
  • To describe and part train professionals in the running of a Reflective Parenting Group, with the option of further supervision and support.


System requirements for online training

The online platform Zoom will be used to deliver this training. Prior to booking on, please ensure you meet the system requirements so you're able to join this training. 

Before the training, please test your equipment is working by going to and follow the instructions.

The Anna Freud Centre brings together those with a stake in the mental health of children and young people. Please subscribe to our mailing list to receive a bi-monthly e-newsletter and occasional updates about the Centre's training and events. 


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