MBT Reflective Fostering

Reflective Fostering is a new approach to working with children and young people in foster care and aims to support their emotional wellbeing through working with foster carers, adopters and the wider professional network.

Reflective Fostering focuses on supporting foster carers to understand and manage their own emotional responses to having children and young people in their care.  This is a psychoeducation approach, aimed at improving the core components of secure attachment, including; increasing carer sensitivity and reflective capacity, developing reflective practice within the professional network, promoting collaboration around the child or young person and with the eventual aim of helping to stabilize placements where there has been a history of placement breakdown or instability.

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A key feature of the Reflective Fostering model is the focus on the need to pay particular attention to the foster carers’ state of mind and support their mentalizing of the children in their care.  This focus supports a carer’s ability to remain reflective and emotionally regulated in the face of high conflict situations or when a child is experiencing emotional disturbance.  It is expected that almost all foster carers will, at some time, find it difficult to keep their mentalizing going when they are challenged by a child in their carer who has had a history of unstable attachments and who has not learned how to mentalize themselves or others in their early development.  

About this training in Reflective Fostering

The training introduces participants to The Reflective Fostering model developed by Dr Sheila Redfern for use in work with foster carers, adoptive parents and with Looked After Children (LAC) professionals.  The model focuses on the application of mentalizing theory and practice in addressing particular difficulties in emotion regulation and perspective-taking.  The course will also look at the impact of early developmental trauma on the experience of children who leave care and enter permanent adoption, or who are adopted from their birth parents. 

There will be opportunity to develop skills in using mentalizing strategies which can help unstick conversations with foster carers and adoptive parents and help them become more mentalized. 

Who is this course suitable for

The course is suitable for anyone working with Children Looked After (CLA) in either a social care, mental health, or private fostering setting.  Reflective Fostering works particularly well when training up a whole team in this mentalizing approach.  Local Authority Children Looked After Services may wish to initiate participation in the training for groups of foster parents following care proceedings. 

If you would be interested in commissioning a training locally, please email  If you are uncertain if this course is suitable for you contact a member of the training team at who will discuss your suitability with the Course Training Tutors. 

Aims of the training
  • To learn about the key features of Reflective Fostering and specific techniques associated with mentalizing;
  • To promote practitioner abilities in employing a mentalizing stance with professionals working with Children in Care, foster carers and adoptive parents;
  • To help professionals working with foster carers and Children in care in their observations of the parent-child/young person relationship and to identify breaks in mentalizing and how to address these;
  • To gain knowledge in providing psychoeducation to foster carers and adoptive parents on the impact of developmental trauma and how this understanding can help in understanding current relational dynamics.
System requirements for live online training

The online platform Zoom will be used to deliver the live elements of this training.  Please ensure you meet the system requirements for Zoom before booking on to any online live courses.  Before the training, please test your equipment is working by going to and follow the instructions.  This will ensure you are able to join this training and resolve any technical issues before the training day. 

The online platform Blackboard Learn will be used to deliver any self-guided learning and will provide access to handouts, materials and homework.  Most laptops/ PCs/ MACs/ IPADs and android devices work with Blackboard.  Blackboard is best accessed through the Google Chrome.

Pre-training requirements

This training will assume a working knowledge of the concept of mentalization.  Prior to starting this training, you must complete the self-guided online training An Introduction to Mentalizing and Mentalization Based Treatments with Children, Young People and Families (MBT CYP). 

You will be given access to the MBT CYP training one month before the training start date of your Reflective Fostering training.  MBT CYP is a self-directed online training and consists of a series of short videos, presentations and activities that span six hours and can be worked through at your own pace.  Topics covered include what is mentalizing and why it’s important; identifying effective and ineffective mentalizing; how mentalizing develops; its relevance in childhood, adolescence, and family contexts; and will introduce the mentalizing stance which underpins Mentalization Based Treatments. It is essential that you complete this training otherwise you will not have the theoretical knowledge to get the most out of the MBT- Reflective Parenting training you are scheduled to attend.  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.

What happens after the Reflective Fostering training

After completing the online Introduction to MBT CYP training and the Reflective Fostering training you will have a sound understanding of mentalizing theory and its practice with foster carers utilising the Reflective model.  You’ll have developed a range of skills in working collaboratively with fosters carers, adopters and professionals working in Looked After Children Services, supporting their mentalizing of the children in their care and working towards security of attachment and placement. We hope you will be able to bring this knowledge to your current practice, whatever setting you are working in. 

For those who want to fully train in delivering Reflective Fostering and become registered as a Reflective Fostering practitioner, ongoing support and consultation will be important. This will help you to continue to develop your skills in implementing Reflective Fostering techniques and support your ability to hold a mentalizing stance in working with carers, adoptive parents and CLA professionals. 

Becoming a Reflective Fostering Practitioner

After completing the online Introduction to MBT CYP training and the MBT- Reflective Fostering if you plan on running a fostering group, you will need to sign up for consultation calls (over Zoom) and in return you will receive the manual.  The model of consultation and pathway to registration as a Reflective Fostering Group practitioner are as follows: 

  • State your intention to run a group and decide with your line manager about a suitable group of parents who you would like to approach for the group. It is recommended that you start with a group of foster carers with children aged 4-11 with behavioural difficulties.
  • Arrange with one of the RF trainers and/or the Reflective Fostering clinical lead to meet with a RF consultant.
  • Arrange to have a minimum of 6 meetings with a consultant at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families.
  • You will be given access to the manual and all materials, including slides, to help you in running a RF psychoeducation group.
  • The consultant will discuss your referrals with you and help you to start your group.
  • You will need to ask your foster carers for consent to be filmed for the consultation calls.
  • You will administer a battery of measures pre and post group to the foster carers to evaluate outcomes from the group. This data will be shared with the RF clinical lead at the Anna Freud Centre to contribute towards gathering an evidence base. The measures will be shared with you by the RF clinical lead prior to you starting a group.
  • Each group facilitator will complete a Reflective Fostering Wheel after each session where you will self-assess your mentalizing skills in each group.
  • Group facilitators, working in pairs, select five clips from 6 of the 8 sessions to send to their RF consultant for review before each consultation meeting.
  • At the end of the group and following 6 consultation sessions, your group consultant will register you as a Reflective Fostering practitioner if you have been sufficiently adherent to the model. This is not only to ensure adherence, but the consultation is to ensure good governance of the Reflective Fostering intervention.

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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