Reflective Parenting (RP)

Reflective Parenting Image 1.jpg

Reflective Parenting is a model of parenting which focuses on the application of theoretical ideas from mentalization, attachment theory and reflective functioning in promoting positive outcomes for children’s emotional and behavioural wellbeing, where there are difficulties in the parent-child relationship.  It was originally developed for children with behavioural difficulties (or conduct disorder) where children showed difficulties in emotion regulation leading to behavioural problems.  Reflective Parenting makes distinct and explicit the need for self (parental) mentalizing and other (parent to infant, child, or adolescent) mentalizing.  It is offered only to parents, not children or young people.  Research (Suchman et al, 2010,) has shown that it is parental self-mentalizing that has the greater impact on the quality of parent-child interactions, over and above the parents’ capacity to mentalize the child.  Reflective Parenting is a psychoeducation intervention and not a therapy.  It aims to support professionals in primary and secondary care settings to work collaboratively with groups of parents, to identify difficulties in the parent-child relationship and intervene directly to improve the connection between parent and child via the 8-week manualised programme.

About this training in Reflective Parenting (RP)

This training will provide an introduction to the Reflective Parenting model and will focus on the practical application of Reflective Parenting in both a group setting and in individual work with parents, but predominantly on the manualised group model.  Participants will learn how to employ a mentalizing stance in their work with parents and how to apply mentalizing principles to managing behavioural problems in young children and enhance a parent’s ability to understand what goes on in their child’s mind.  Participants will be coached in using a range of mentalizing tools unique to the Reflective Parenting model helping parents to connect with their children in positive and meaningful ways.

The training is based on the following text: Reflective Parenting: A Guide to Understanding What’s Going in in Your Child’s Mind by Redfern, S. (2016). Routledge

Reflective Parenting : A Guide to Understanding What's Going on in Your Child's Mind book cover

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  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 Parenting, its theoretical link to reflective functioning, attachment and theory of mind, and its application to working with parents with young children.
  • To promote practitioner abilities in employing a mentalizing stance in work with parents.
  • To develop practitioner skills in providing practical tools to parents to help explain and practice Reflective Parenting including the Parent APP and Parent Map.
  • To describe and part train professionals in the running of a Reflective Parenting Group.


System requirements for 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 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 MBT-Parenting: Reflective Parenting 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 Parenting training

After completing the online Introduction to MBT CYP training and the MBT-Reflective Parenting training you will have a sound understanding of mentalizing theory and its practice with parents utilizing the Reflective Parenting model.  You’ll have developed a range of skills in establishing an alliance and working collaboratively with parents and will have developed skills in the use of the Reflective Parenting tools; Emotional Thermometer, Professional APP, Parenting App, Two Hands and Parent Map.  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 a Reflective Parenting Group and become registered, as an MBT-Reflective Parenting practitioner, ongoing support and consultation is essential and will give practitioners access to the manualised 8-week group approach.  This will help you to continue to develop your skills in implementing MBT-Reflective Parenting techniques and support your ability to hold a mentalizing stance in working with parents.  If you’d like to be recognised as an MBT-Reflective Parenting Practitioner consultation whilst delivering an 8-10-week Reflective Parenting Group is essential.   

Becoming an MBT-Reflective Parenting Practitioner

After completing the online Introduction to MBT CYP training and the MBT- Reflective Parenting if you plan on running a parenting 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 Parenting 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 parents with children aged 4-11 with behavioural difficulties.
  • Arrange with one of the RP trainers and/or the Reflective Parenting clinical lead (Theresa Schwaiger) to meet with a RP 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 RP psychoeducation group.
  • The consultant will discuss your referrals with you and help you to start your group.
  • You will need to ask your parents for consent to be filmed for the consultation calls.
  • You will administer a battery of measures pre and post group to the parents to evaluate outcomes from the group. This data will be shared with the RP clinical lead at the Anna Freud centre to contribute towards gathering an evidence base. The measures will be shared with you by the RP clinical lead prior to you starting a group.
  • Each group facilitator will complete a Reflective Parenting 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 RP 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 Parenting 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 Parenting intervention.
Training Formats: Online and Face-to-Face delivery

This training can be delivered live online or face-to-face. Dates and times will vary according to format so please carefully check the dates and times for individual courses before booking.

Before signing up for a live online training, be sure to check the system requirements.

Please follow this link to book onto the face-to-face training in London.

If you’d like to commission this training for your team or organisation please email

5th June 2023 - 12th June 2023
  • Online – live and self-directed learning (Joining instructions will be sent to the email address you booked on with at least one working day before the event)
  • 5th, 6th and 12th June 2023
  • 3 days
  • 09:30-13:30 (UK time)

Training fee for those who have already completed: Mentalizing and Mentalization Based Treatments with Children, Young People and Families (MBT CYP) – An Introduction

Training fee including: Mentalizing and Mentalization Based Treatments with Children, Young People and Families (MBT CYP) – An Introduction

30th October 2023 - 6th November 2023
  • Online – live and self-directed learning (Joining instructions will be sent to the email address you booked on with at least one working day before the event)
  • 30th October, 1st and 6th November 2023
  • 3 days
  • 09:30-13:30 (UK time)

Training fee for those who have already completed: Mentalizing and Mentalization Based Treatments with Children, Young People and Families (MBT CYP) – An Introduction

Training fee including: Mentalizing and Mentalization Based Treatments with Children, Young People and Families (MBT CYP) – An Introduction

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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